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What is Whiplash & Can it Be Prevented?

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It’s a sad fact that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3 million people suffer from an injury each year in car accidents across the country. From cuts and bruises to spinal cord injuries to, perhaps the most common, whiplash injuries. Every collision is different and requires different attention from medical professionals, investigators, and lawyers. While there are no hard and fast rules about whiplash injuries, one thing that’s for certain is that they continue across the country and appear to happen more frequently than any other car accident injury.

Neck Injuries Are Serious

Whiplash is the common name for a neck injury sustained when the head is abruptly thrown in a given direction (to one side or forward is typical in a motor vehicle collision) and occurs during both low and high speed accidents. The injury is, in fact, to the soft tissues surrounding the bone and spinal cord in the back and neck. Both the speed of the injury-causing movement and the excessive force that throws the head in the given direction strain the neck and back ligaments and muscles beyond a normal range of motion, causing injuries that range from sprains and strains to ligament tears and herniation.

Lesser whiplash injuries (the mild strains or muscle sprains) typically resolve over the course of a few months of medical treatment and rest. The more serious neck injuries could lead to lifelong discomfort requiring years of therapy or perhaps a corrective surgical procedure. In either case, neck injuries are serious and a medical professional should be seen immediately following a car accident to evaluate any potential damage.

Symptoms of Whiplash

If you’ve been in a car accident and you’re not sure if you have whiplash, here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck or back stiffness and discomfort
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Problems remembering or thinking
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Tingling or numbness anywhere on the body
  • Jaw pain
  • Disturbed vision

How to Prevent Whiplash

If you’ve never suffered from whiplash as a result of a car accident before, congratulations! This section is for you as well as those who have recovered from a previous injury and are hoping to prevent whiplash in the future. One of the best methods of preventing neck injury in a car accident is to align and use the seat head restraint properly. The head restraint protects against whiplash or will, at the very least, reduce the severity of the injury should the collision be from the side.

To correctly align your headrest, look at both the height and the distance between the head and the restraint itself. It should be at least level with your ears or higher with as little distance as possible between the back of your head and the headrest.

Beyond that, drive carefully and do your part to prevent car accidents by being aware of your surroundings and obeying traffic laws. Should you find yourself involved in a collision, remember, never give a recorded statement, seek immediate medical attention  and call the Scranton Law Firm as soon as possible! Stay safe out there!

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