Research has proven for some time that whiplash causes injury to the cervical spine. However, recent studies have shown that those suffering from whiplash are at an increased risk for experiencing concurrent traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brain injury can occur with or without a direct impact to the head. When the brain becomes compressed, twisted, and distorted inside the skull, it suffers both local and widespread damage as well as electrochemical disruption.
Those who have experienced severe whiplash may expect to feel symptoms associated with TBI. This can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, and neck pain, as well as upper extremity numbness and tingling. In a few cases, there have been reports of brain dysfunction and lower extremity weakness. Those who have their cognitive thinking affected may have trouble with attention spans, especially in terms of multitasking and dividing attention, as well as an impaired ability and speed to process information.
Injured individuals may also notice an increased sensitivity to sound, communication skills that seem scattered or disorganized, a slowed or impaired reaction time, psychosocial problems, and even a diminished or reduced IQ. All of these are cognitive symptoms that arise from brain injury, not simple cases of whiplash.
Brain Injuries are More Common than You Think
While only a few studies are currently examining the relationship between whiplash and traumatic brain injury, one in particular found that, after examining the MRI scans of 1,200 neck pain patients, brain injury occurred in 23% of the cases studied.
Motor vehicle accidents account for more than 40 percent of mild traumatic brain injuries. However, there is a broad range of severity when diagnosing a traumatic brain injury. Symptoms range from mild to quite severe. Doctors tend to omit diagnosing the mild end of the spectrum so, in reality, the numbers may actually be larger than what studies are currently able to show. This is a danger to many who may experience long-term cognitive impairment when the brain injury goes undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
Symptoms May not Show Right Away
Since brain injuries involve a complex chain of events, the effects become most apparent after the first 24 hours. However, when most individuals experience whiplash or other type of injury involving the head, they rush to the emergency room immediately. This may lead doctors to misdiagnose the injury. Some symptoms may not be apparent immediately after the injury. It is imperative that those who feel new or ongoing symptoms 24 hours later return to the emergency and ask to be re-evaluated.
If you or someone you love is suffering from the effects of whiplash or a physician who neglected to diagnose your injury properly, contact our attorneys. We will provide you with a free consultation and evaluation of your case. We will also do everything we can to see to it that you are fully compensated for any existing, or future, medical expenses, as well as the pain and suffering you are enduring because of the injury.