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Can Whiplash Cause Injury to the Brain?

Published on Feb 13, 2020 at 1:15 pm in Auto Safety.

Man with headache using laptop

After a car accident, you might experience neck pain as a result of whiplash, which is when the head is whipped quickly from one side to the other after an impact. Since there’s damage to the soft tissue of the neck in this back and forth motion, is it possible that the brain is also injured in this motion since it is soft tissue as well?

To put it simply, the answer is yes. Some people who get whiplash from collisions report pain, whether immediate or delayed, in their heads as well as their necks, which could mean they have experienced a brain injury caused by the whipping motion. This makes sense, since the head rests atop the neck, which is the body part that gets moved violently when whiplash occurs.

Let’s take a look at some of the brain injuries that can happen from whiplash.

Brain Injuries Caused by Whiplash

Many people think that whiplash only affects their neck, but in reality, it affects any part of the body that is connected to the neck, which is why nerves through the arms, back, and legs can be damaged, but more importantly, the brain can get injured as well. Problems like trouble focusing, sensitivity to light and sound, overstimulation, balance and coordination issues, sleeping problems, and headaches are all symptoms of whiplash, but they all have to do with the brain.

While we normally think about whiplash only affecting the neck muscles, it makes sense that the quick whipping would cause the brain to jostle around inside the skull and injure it, which is commonly known as a concussion. The CDC describes the cause of a concussion as the brain bouncing around within the skull, which can damage brain cells and change brain chemistry, making it a traumatic brain injury that whiplash could cause.

Another brain injury that can occur after whiplash is a Chiari malformation (CM). This can happen if the snapping motion of the neck damages the cervical bones of the spine. If they’re hurt enough, they can create a bigger passageway for the spinal cord, which can be a catalyst for a CM, otherwise known as an acquired or secondary CM.

When the cerebellum bulges through the opening that allows the spinal cord to pass through it as it does with CM, it can affect some functions of that part of the brain and cause neck pain, balance problems, and muscle weakness, as well as other symptoms that are similar to whiplash, so it’s best to tell your doctor all of your symptoms so that they can properly diagnose your injuries after a car accident.

Symptoms of Brain Injuries

If you’ve been in a collision and suspect you might have a brain injury or whiplash, you should go see a medical professional right away so you can be evaluated. A brain injury can create many complications if left untreated, and some of those complications can have a negative impact on the rest of your life. Here are some of signs of brain injuries that you should be aware of so you know what would warrant a trip to the doctor:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness
  • Speech problems
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Mood changes

If you experience any of these symptoms after a car accident, you’ll want to go to the doctor so you can be checked for a traumatic brain injury. Getting to the doctor as quickly as possible will ensure the severity of your injuries are recorded and can be used to make a claim against the driver at fault for the accident that caused your injuries.

When a negligent driver’s actions harm you, you deserve compensation to pay for the damages they caused, including medical bills, lost wages, damages, and any pain and suffering you’ve endured. At Solomon Law Group in Columbia, our experienced car accident lawyers can help you recover those costs from the liable party. By holding the driver accountable for their actions, you are showing their actions have consequences, and that might make them a better driver and make the roads a safer place so nobody else needs to go through what you experienced.

If you have a potential car accident claim you want to discuss, reach out to us today.

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