Did I Suffer from a Concussion or Whiplash from a Car Accident?

Head and neck injuries are all too common in car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. In many cases, whiplash and concussions go hand-in-hand with each other.

What is Whiplash?

The Mayo Clinic defines whiplash as “a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” During a rear-ending accident, whiplash is one of the most common injuries, as the force of the car moving forward and abruptly stopping can cause the neck to jerk forcefully and rapidly. While whiplash can often resolve with treatment after a few weeks, some accident victims do end up with chronic neck pain and other conditions that can be enduring. Whiplash injury can also lead to head injuries such as a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), which, as discussed below, has serious short-term and long-term impacts.

Some common symptoms of whiplash include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Pain that is exacerbated with neck movement
  • Problems with the range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain or tenderness that can also radiate to the upper back or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Memory problems and difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
  • Issues with sleep

Mild cases of whiplash can resolve with minimal intervention, but it can also be a serious injury leading to long-term problems such as chronic pain and whiplash-associated disorders.

What is a Concussion?

While whiplash does not always result in a concussion (nor are all concussions a result of whiplash), in car accidents, it is not uncommon to find that a victim of whiplash has also suffered a concussion as a victim’s head is rapidly jerked back and forth. The CDC defines a concussion as “a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”

Signs of a concussion can include:

  • An appearance of being dazed or stunned
  • Memory and concentration problems, confusion, or forgetfulness
  • Slow responses to questions
  • Loss of consciousness (even a brief loss of consciousness)
  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Mood changes
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision
  • Bothered by light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Feeling “off”

For patients feeling signs of a concussion, medical providers will generally evaluate their symptoms of a concussion while also using a CT scan to see if there is damage to the brain,

Post-Concussion Syndrome

Post-Concussion Syndrome or Postconcussive syndrome (PCS) is a number of symptoms that commonly occur after mild TBI. Patients who have suffered more than one brain injury are often at increased risk. PCS symptoms may be physical, cognitive, behavioral, and/or emotional in nature. A few common symptoms include headache, fatigue, vision changes, disturbances in balance, confusion, dizziness, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. Approximately 90% of concussion symptoms go away either on their own or with treatment, with symptoms typically resolving within 10 to 14 days (maybe even lasting a few weeks). When concussion symptoms last beyond three months, patients are considered to be suffering from persistent postconcussive syndrome, which often leads to lasting impacts on cognition, memory, learning, and executive function. Unfortunately, in some instances, cognitive impairments may be permanent in nature.

Treating Whiplash or a Concussion

If you have symptoms of whiplash or a concussion following an auto accident, it is important to get medical care and treatment immediately (especially with a concussion). Often, whiplash victims will visit medical providers such as orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, or chiropractic specialists to treat neck pain and back pain and ensure that ligaments in the neck and the cervical spine are healthy, while concussion injury victims may need medical attention in an emergency room if symptoms are present and severe enough or long-term treatment by a neurologist.

After a Vehicle Accident – Whiplash and or Concussion Injuries

If you have been in an automobile accident and believe you may have some of the symptoms of whiplash or TBI/a concussion, you should immediately reach out to your doctor. You may also be eligible for compensation for your injuries and your accident. Reach out to the personal injury attorneys at Dross Berman today to discuss your injuries and your case. Not only can we represent you in recovering medical bills and other damages, but we are happy to assist in finding a great medical specialist to help treat your injuries.