MOTOR VEHICLE INJURIES
CHIROPRACTIC AND MOTOR VEHICLE INJURIES
"Whiplash injuries not only increase your chances of chronic neck and shoulder pain, they also increase the probability of many other health problems and issues." — Journal of Clinical Epidemiology
Can chiropractic care help someone who has experienced a motor vehicle injury? Absolutely! In fact, we strongly recommend that everyone who has experienced a motor vehicle injury, as a driver or as a passenger, have a spinal check up with a chiropractor. The force of the impact can have a tremendous impact on the body—even if the car wasn’t moving very fast. Some of the most common injuries experienced during a motor vehicle accident are whiplash injuries, concussion injuries, and extremity injuries.
Often referred to as acceleration-deceleration injury, whiplash is a very common source of neck pain and disability. Whiplash injuries are most commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents, but can also be caused by any impact involving aggressive shaking or back-and-forth movement of the head and neck.
Whiplash injuries most commonly affect structures associated with the head and neck, specifically, the spine, muscles, ligaments, intervertebral discs, spinal cord, cranial nerves, brainstem, and skull bones. Injury to nerves and blood vessels in the surrounding areas can be involved as well.
In some cases the pain caused by whiplash is localized to the neck, while in other cases, the pain can radiate to other regions of the body, causing headaches, upper back pain, shoulder pain, or even arm pain, tingling, and numbness. The long-term consequences of uncorrected whiplash injury can result in semi-permanent, and even permanent damage, to the ligaments, joints, muscles, discs, and nerves involved in the injury.
A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury that impacts brain and nervous system function. A concussion injury is caused either by a forceful hit to the head, face, or neck, or by aggressive shaking of the head and neck, such as with a whiplash injury.
The brain has the consistency of a jello-like substance, and therefore, is highly susceptible to injury. The brain is protected by both the bones of the skull and the cerebral spinal fluid within the protective meninges. A violent force can cause the brain to shift back and forth and collide with the inside of the skull. This impact can not only bruise the brain, but can also cause injury to blood vessels and nerves in and around the area of impact. Additionally, the acceleration-decelaration of the brain can cause shearing forces on the delicate tissues of the brain leading to balance issues, visual problems and other serious concerns.
Furthermore, the impact can cause a mechanical deformation of the affected neurons which can disrupt the balance of ions and chemicals in the brain, which can further damage nerve cell function. In moderate cases of concussions, the impaired nerve fibres can heal, but in more severe cases of concussion, if the damaged nerve fibres are unable to recover, they can lose the ability to send nerve signals and communicate with other brain cells entirely.
Motor vehicle accidents can often result in injury to extremities of the body (arms, hands, legs, and feet). Factors such as the speed the vehicle was traveling upon impact, the location of the impact, presence or absence of a seatbelt, and even pre-existing health conditions, are all relevant to the type and severity of the injury experienced.
Extremity injuries are often overlooked, which can lead to improper care of the injury following an accident. Left unaddressed, this can lead to improper healing of the injury, dysfunction of the injured region, and even negative impacts to posture and spinal health. For example, an unaddressed injury to the knee can influence how a patient stands, walks, and moves; this in turn can have implications of the structural integrity of the knee, the pelvis, and ultimately, the entire spine.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Care following an accident or injury will vary, depending on the circumstances under which the injury occurred, as well as the type and severity of the injury. At Scott Family Chiropractic, we utilize a holistic approach to health care and to pain relief. Our clinic ensures that each new patient who comes into our clinic undergoes a thorough health history, a description of their accident, a detailed spinal examination, a nervous system evaluation, and any other necessary diagnostic testing, prior to beginning chiropractic care with us. From there, we will determine what areas of the body have been impacted by the accident, and an individualized program of care that best suits the patient's health needs will be recommended.
Dr. Scott has received additional training in Functional Neurology from the NeuroLife Institute in Marietta, Georgia. This has provided him with additional knowledge of concussion injuries and rehabilitation. Patients who have experienced concussion or whiplash injuries will be assessed and treated on an individual basis. The process of helping patients with brain injury is one of the most rewarding things we do in the clinic. We welcome anyone who may have experienced a concussion or whiplash injury, to reach out to us to have their questions answered.