Those who have been involved in a car crash or any other type of accident may experience a condition called whiplash. This occurs when muscles or tendons in the neck or back are forced to move in an unnatural manner, which causes strain and injury. As symptoms of whiplash injuries may not present themselves for hours or even days after an accident, victims may not end up seeking treatment in a timely manner inadvertently.
Over 2 million Americans will experience whiplash each year. While it is commonly associated with being in a car accident, people can suffer this type of injury whenever they are hit or fall awkwardly. Boxers, football players or hockey players may experience whiplash during a game or during practice, and even office workers may suffer from this condition after looking up from their computers too fast.
There are many different whiplash symptoms that a person can look for after an accident. Typically, people will experience pain or stiffness in their neck or back. This may be because neck muscles have been seriously strained or torn. It may also be possible that bones in the neck or back have been fractured.
Whenever the head has been jolted with any level of force, it is possible to experience headaches or symptoms that may mimic those of a concussion. It is possible for an individual to experience either moderate or debilitating headaches depending on how hard the neck and head were forced to move.
Head injuries may result in sensitivity to light as well as trouble concentrating for long periods of time. It may also be possible to have issues with either short- or long-term memory. Those who experience these or other symptoms generally should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
At a minimum, an individual who has experienced whiplash may have trouble moving his or her head. This may make it difficult to drive a car, go to work or engage in other basic tasks. Head or neck pain may also make it difficult to sleep at night, which could have negative consequences on a person's mood.
Generally, adults need about seven hours of sleep per night, and failure to get that sleep may lead to effects similar to drinking too much alcohol. This may lead to mistakes at home or at work that might cause further injury. A lack of sleep could also lead to symptoms consistent with depression, such as eating too much or feeling worthless.
Injuries to muscles or tendons in the neck may result in poor posture or using other parts of the body to compensate. Over time, other muscles or tendons could be strained, stretched or otherwise harmed. This may eventually lead to hip, knee or foot pain.
In addition to the physical and mental impact of an accident that causes whiplash, an individual may experience financial consequences as well. It may take months or years of physical therapy or other medical interventions to properly treat an injury. If an individual is unable to work or unable to remain in his or her current job, that person may lose income in addition to having to pay for medical bills.
Those who have symptoms of whiplash may be wise to maintain a positive attitude as they seek treatment. Research suggests that staying positive from a mental standpoint may make it easier for the body to heal. This is partially because those who have the will to get better generally will take their rehab seriously and work harder to overcome their symptoms. It may be a good idea to seek counseling or take other steps to help overcome any mental issues related to a whiplash injury.
It might also be a good idea to look into hiring an attorney. Individuals who have been the victim of an accident that they didn't cause may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. Compensation may be available to help pay, both now and in the future, for lost wages and medical bills that were incurred as a result of the injury. Other amounts may be available depending on state law.
As a general rule, it is critical for those who have experienced symptoms of whiplash to heed their doctor's advice as it pertains to getting better. This may mean remaining in bed for extended periods of time or avoiding certain activities on a temporary basis. If a person is experiencing seizures or other symptoms that come and go in an unpredictable fashion, it may be best to refrain from driving or traveling alone.
Failing to abide by a doctor's orders may make an existing injury worse. It could also jeopardize a civil case against the party who caused the accident. Injured victims should reach out to their friends or family members for ideas on how they can stay occupied even if they are only allowed to stay in bed or sit on the couch.
Those who have been involved in an accident of any kind could suffer serious injuries that may take months or years to recover from, and continued treatments and expensive medical bills can take a large toll on a person's quality of life. Talking with an attorney may make it easier to get the money or other resources they need in order to make a full recovery, or as close to a full recovery as possible.
Resources (1) https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/5-facts-about-whiplash (2) http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/neck-strain-whiplash#1 (3) http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression#1
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