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 also at an increased risk for 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.
Long-Term Effects of Whiplash
Those who have experienced severe whiplash may expect to feel symptoms associated with TBI. Effects of whiplash can include:
- Neck pain
- 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 their focus. They may also experience an impaired ability to process information.
Injured individuals may notice:
- Increased sensitivity to sound
- Scattered or disorganized communication skills
- Slowed or impaired reaction time
- Psychosocial problems
- Diminished or reduced IQ
All of these are cognitive symptoms that arise from brain injury, which can occur along with other long-term effects of whiplash.
Brain Injuries are More Common than You Think
Studies are currently examining the relationship between whiplash and traumatic brain injury. In particular, one found that after reviewing the MRI scans of 1,200 neck pain patients, brain injury occurred in 23% of the cases studied.
Car 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. Whiplash concussion and TBI can occur in even minor accidents and can result in more serious long-term medical conditions.
Doctors tend to omit to diagnose the mild end of the spectrum. So, in reality, the numbers may actually be larger than what studies show. This is a danger to many who may experience long-term cognitive impairment when the brain injury goes undiagnosed and a case of TBI goes untreated.
Traumatic Brain Injury 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 types of injuries involving the head, they often rush to the emergency room immediately. This may lead doctors to misdiagnose the injury.
Traumatic brain injury symptoms may not appear immediately after the injury. It is essential that those who feel new or ongoing symptoms 24 hours later return to a medical facility and ask for a re-evaluation. A follow-up check-up a few weeks later is also highly advisable.
Common Causes of Whiplash
Whiplash results whenever the body undergoes a sudden jerking motion of the head. Most people associate whiplash injuries with automobile accidents, especially rear-end vehicle collisions. While this is one of the most common causes of whiplash, many people don’t know that whiplash can result from other scenarios.
Additional causes of whiplash may include:
- Fall accidents
- Contact sports injuries (for instance, when a quarterback is tackled from behind)
- Physical abuse, including shaking an infant
- Battery or other violent incidents
- Horse riding accidents
- Bicycle or motorcycle crashes
- Amusement park ride injuries
- Sudden blows to the neck or body with a heavy object
The important aspect to realize is that whiplash, concussions, and traumatic brain injury don’t necessarily require a physical blow to the head. Traumatic brain injury can result from any situation where the head moves suddenly in any direction. This can include backward or sideways motions, not just forward movements.
Recovering Damages for Long-Term Effects of Whiplash Injuries
Whiplash accidents may involve severe symptoms as well as complex legal issues. As a result, a lawsuit or settlement may be needed to compensate a victim for injuries caused by the negligence or recklessness of another.
Depending on the exact circumstances of the accident, damages can cover:
- Hospital bills
- Costs associated with therapy and rehabilitation
- Medication and pharmaceutical expenses
- Lost wages or lost earning capacity
- Attorney’s fees and other related payments
Long-term effects of whiplash can cause major life changes. A monetary damages award can therefore be extremely helpful for a person who has experienced serious losses as a result of a whiplash accident.
Get in Touch with a Brain Injury Attorney
If you or someone you love is suffering from the effects of whiplash, or if a physician neglected to diagnose your injury correctly, contact our attorneys. We have consistently won multi-million dollar verdicts for our clients, including the largest TBI verdict in the world.
We will do everything we can to guide you towards full compensation for any existing, or future, medical expenses, as well as the pain and suffering you are enduring because of the injury. Get in touch with us at (757) 244-7000 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.