Very few are unaware of Sprint Cup race driver Dale Earnhardt Jr’s decision to take a break from the sport after suffering several concussions due to crashes. The last mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) caused problems with his vision and balance. What many people do not know is the fact that it does not take a high-speed crash to cause whiplash and a mild traumatic brain injury.
A typical scenario would be a person who stops abruptly or is simply waiting for a traffic light or a school bus. A distracted driver strikes the stopped vehicle from behind, causing the drivers head to snap backward and over the headrest and then suddenly thrust forward toward the steering wheel. Hopefully, the driver of the struck vehicle had their shoulder harness and lap belt buckled and their head never reached the steering wheel.
When the police arrive to take a report the driver feels a bit shaken but tells the police that they are fine, even though they are having difficulty maintaining their train of thought. After a couple days there is some neck pain and stiffness, so they visit a chiropractor.
The chiropractor adjusts the neck and shoulders of the victim and recommends some over the counter pain medication and rest. As a few day pass and the victim is feeling better physically, they return to work and begin to realize that they are having trouble staying focused, their vision is a bit blurry and their memory is not as sharp as it should be. Their coworkers may even ask if they are alright.
It is very common for patients not to complain about certain whiplash symptoms, especially those of a subtle cognitive nature. They may write them off as mild shock, fatigue or anxiety from the episode. They may think, in the case of chiropractic care, that the symptoms are not within the chiropractor’s scope of practice. The symptoms may also be very vague or difficult to describe. Patients may react with surprise when asked if they have any cognitive symptoms, never realizing that there was an underlying reason for what they were experiencing.
How Does a Whiplash Brain Injury Occur?
During a whiplash accident, the brain strikes the inner bony walls of the skull and rebounds striking the opposite side. This may happen one or more times. The brain which is suspended inside the skull is projected forward and bounces off the skull causing damage to some of the nerve cells. The damage most commonly occurs to the brain stem, which connects the brain to the spinal column, the frontal lobe, behind the forehead, or the temporal lobe which is located on the side of the head. The damage can be to the area of the initial impact or the opposite side of the head, due to the ricochet effect. The direction and of the impact contributes to the area and severity of the injury. The detrimental effects of the injury can include problems with walking, balance, coordination and strength. Communication skills, information processing, memory and psychological functions may be detrimentally affected as well.
In most cases, the person who receives a mild traumatic brain injury from a whiplash accident will recover within 3 to 12 months but unfortunately, some will face long term, post-concussive syndrome.
What a Whiplash Accident Victim Should Do
Anyone who experiences whiplash in an accident should always seek the attention of a medical professional who specializes in traumatic brain injuries, even if there are no apparent symptoms. Often, symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury are not evident for days or even weeks later.
Following diagnosis, it is highly advisable that the injured party retains the services of a qualified personal injury attorney. Even a mild traumatic brain injury can have lasting effects that require long-term medical care that can be quite costly. The person may need to change careers due to physical or psychological disability resulting in a lifetime of lost income. There may be monetary compensation available.
Dolman Law Group has successfully represented victims of whiplash injuries and understands that they can affect the brain as well as the spinal column. If you or a loved one were injured in a whiplash accident, contact Dolman Law at 727-451- 6275 today for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652