Lake County residents who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents may have had to endure the effects of many different injuries and related illnesses. One of the most common injuries associated with car accidents is whiplash. This condition can range from mild to severe, and accident victims can deal with its effects for life.
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Signs and symptoms
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues in the neck, a condition that may also be referred to as a neck sprain or strain. Injury to the joints of the vertebrae, discs, ligaments, muscles and nerve roots often occur. Accident victims may experience the following:
- Neck pain
- Stiffness in the neck
- Burning and prickling in the neck
- Pain in the shoulders or back
Some patients experience memory loss, nervousness and irritability, poor concentration, and sleep disturbances such as insomnia and fatigue. Depression may also occur following a whiplash injury. Symptoms may last for as little as a few weeks in extremely mild cases, or patients can endure years of injury-associated pain.
Mechanism of the injury
When a car is rear-ended, it begins to move forward, bringing the seat and driver forward as well. However, the head remains momentarily fixed in space and then follows with the body a moment later. When the car comes to a stop, the body again continues to move and the head stays fixed until rebounding forces bring it back into alignment with the body. These hyper flexion and extension motions can cause such serious injuries to the neck because they pull the neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion.
Speed not a factor
While some whiplash injuries occur because of falls or sports accidents, the vast majority of patients are injured due to car accidents. Rear-end collisions are the most common car accident to occur, and are the most often cited as the cause of these neck sprains. Although the condition has been associated with some stigma in the recent past, new research is showing just how extensive damage can be for many victims. According to the Spine Research Institute of San Diego, most whiplash car accident injuries occur at accident speeds under 12 miles per hour, a speed that often results in no vehicle damage.
Many are victims
Over three million people are diagnosed with whiplash injuries each year. Half of these injuries will result in chronic pain, and 300,000 individuals will become permanently disabled due to the pain associated with their injury. These cases can be complex, but a Lake County personal injury attorney can help accident victims receive the compensation they need and deserve following a whiplash injury.