Can Whiplash Cause a Brain Injury?

3/25/2020 By Andrea Gold Read in about 3 minutes

Though whiplash is a neck injury, the quick back and forth movement of the head can sometimes cause significant damage to the brain. Find out how.

It's Saturday night, and you're on your way to your girlfriend's apartment to pick her up for dinner. You stop at a red light, and a car slams into the back of your vehicle. The car must have been going 30 miles an hour or more. Your head jolts back and forth with extreme motion. You realize while this is happening that you will probably have whiplash. What you don't realize is that as your neck is getting jolted back and forth, so is your brain.

After the accident, you go to the emergency room to get an X-ray and find out if you have any other injuries. Your doctor would like to do an MRI to see if there was any damage to your brain. You're surprised because a brain injury never occurred to you. Once the test results come back, you find out that you do have a brain injury from the accident. Your recovery time is going to take longer and be more expensive than you first thought.

How Whiplash Can Cause a Brain Injury

The powerful hit of a car to the backend of your vehicle can cause your neck to jolt forward and backward at a quick and violent rate of speed. This can cause your brain to move from one side to the other, hitting the inside of the skull and causing damage.

This type of injury can be very dangerous because it doesn't show up right away. Many car accident ,victims don't realize they suffered a brain injury. There is also the risk of long-term damage because the injury doesn't receive treatment promptly.

Types of Brain Injuries

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - this type of brain injury happens when there is a bang to the head suddenly and violently. It can also occur when an object pierces the skull.
  • Closed Head Injury - the symptoms of this type of injury can be sudden, take hours or days. With this type of injury, there isn't any penetration of the skull, and there most likely won't be any scratches or cuts, making it difficult to detect.

Symptoms of Brain Injury from Whiplash

In most cases, brain injuries start to show within 24 hours. When you're in an auto accident, and you have other injuries, especially if they involve the head, they can mask the symptoms. Within a few days, you may start to experience issues with attention span, focus, processing information, and overall cognitive thinking issues. See additional symptoms below.

  • Slowed reaction time
  • Disorganized communication
  • Lower IQ
  • Increased sensitivity to sound
  • Psychological issues

If you begin to experience any of the symptoms above, you should go to your doctor for a re-evaluation. Tell your doctor about the type of car accident you had and your concerns about a brain injury. Brain injuries from an accident can range from mild to severe. If left untreated, this type of injury can result in a critical long-term medical condition.

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