Hello and thank you for visiting our 'Whiplash' webpage. A whiplash injury typically refers to an injury to the neck and possibly the head which have occurred in an auto crash. Whiplash injuries can have devastating consequences which sometimes last a lifetime. This web-page will help you gain a greater understanding of how whiplash injuries happen and educate you regarding some of the science behind this injury. From early in my chiropractic career it became apparent that some of the most challenging patients to treat were those that had whiplash injuries. To better understand this type of injury and how to properly assess and treat it I took post-graduate courses to become certified as an auto crash forensic expert at the Spine Research Institute of San Diego (www.srisd.com). Part of the coursework involved crash testing, both with real people in the vehicles (low speed impacts up to 8 mph), and high speed impacts with crash test dummies. The videos below demonstrate the potential for bodily injury with auto crashes. Since I took my post graduate coursework on this subject I'm always amazed at how nonchalant we are driving vehicles at such high speeds only feet from other vehicles, inanimate objects, or pedestrians. Texting or talking on phones, eating or drinking and driving. all contribute to many accidents that cause death or permanent injuries. If you have suffered a whiplash injury my hope is that this page will help you understand your injuries better. It also can raise awareness of the potential severity of auto crash injuries and encourage people to develop safer driving habits. Below the crash videos I will explain the whiplash trauma and sequelae from a scientific point of view. Thank you for visiting our website, Dr. Paul Hjort
While there are a large variety of injuries that may occur in automobile crashes, whiplash injuries are more specific in nature and typically are related to neck trauma. It is called whiplash because the injury has similarities to what happens when a whip is 'cracked'. When a whip is cracked the tip of the whip moves at a much faster speed than the handle (the 'crack' happens when the tip moves faster than the speed of sound, making a small sonic boom). Likewise, in motor vehicle crashes a person's head may move at a much faster speed than the torso or the vehicle. If the acceleration of the head is big enough it can cause an injury. There is a tremendous amount of research that explains the whiplash phenomenon and confirms that it often results in significant injuries, chronic problems and disability. Before vehicles caused whiplash injuries people sometimes suffered injuries on trains. In the 19th century this injury was common enough that it was called 'railway spine' Originally denied by railroad companies, the disorder was finally accepted by leading European physicians in the late 1800's. Interestingly enough, the experts at that time noted that injuries were most likely to occur when the subject was hit from behind. This 'risk factor' for increased injury still holds true today with modern motor vehicle crashes. A scientific way to measure forces that a body is subject to in a crash is to attach devices that measure acceleration (measured in g's) to different parts of the body and vehicle. In a rear end collision with an impact speed of 8 mph the acceleration of the head might be several times what the acceleration of the vehicle is. There are a number of variables that together can have a big impact on the risk of injury to the occupant. As mentioned earlier, getting struck from behind increases the risk of whiplash injury. The configuration of the seat and head restraint also can have a big impact. The closer the head restraint to the back of your head the less the risk of injury. Other risk factors include having your head turned at impact, having a pre-existing condition (prior injuries, neck pain, headaches, arthritis, etc.), using your shoulder harness, advanced age, etc. It should be noted that while using your shoulder harness may increase your risk of a whiplash injury you should always use it because it can save your life or keep you from being paralyzed in a higher speed crash or roll-over.
Symptoms following whiplash injuries can be complicated and numerous. The most common symptom is neck pain (92%), followed by headaches (57%), fatigue (56%), shoulder pain (49%), anxiety (44%), interscapular pain (42%), low back pain (39%), sleep disturbance (39%), upper limb paraesthesia (30%), sensitivity to noise (29%) and impaired concentration (26%). Other symptoms that may follow a whiplash injury that are less common but still documented include: blurred vision, irritability, dysphagia, dizziness, forgetfulness, upper limb pain, upper limb weakness, tinnitus, and jaw pain. It is easy to see how whiplash injuries can be very frustrating for people to deal with and complicated for health care professionals to treat.
At Hjort Chiropractic, P.A. our treatment procedures and capabilities have evolved over the years. Since whiplash injuries (and other spinal injuries as well) are often complex it is ideal to have many treatment options available. In addition to chiropractic services we offer acupuncture, massage therapy, ART, cold laser, trigger point therapy, electric stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, exercise rehabilitation and instruction, and other treatment to give injured people the best chance for relief. We also work with medical providers and pain clinics, physical therapists, and imaging centers to help integrate care.