Whiplash and the Connection to Brain Injury

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries victims sustain in a car accident. However, there are also other ways for individuals to sustain whiplash injuries, including sports and recreation incidents, falls, physical assaults, and more. Anytime a person is in a situation where their body rapidly decelerates or accelerates, this can lead to a whiplash injury. However, what many people do not know is that there is a connection between whiplash and brain injuries. Here, we want to discuss this connection because this provides valuable insight into the extent of hidden injuries after an accident occurs.

The Connection Between Whiplash and Brain Injuries

Most people generally understand that whiplash can effect a person’s spine, as well as their upper back and neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Even though many people consider whiplash to be a relatively minor injury, medical professionals understand that there are various long-term effects of these injuries that can significantly hinder a person’s day-to-day life.

In fact, many of the symptoms of whiplash can also feel just like symptoms that are usually associated with traumatic brain injuries. This can include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Neck pain
  • Weakness
  • Numbness or tingling in upper extremities

Additionally, whiplash victims can experience other symptoms usually associated with TBIs, including an increased sensitivity to sound, disorganized thoughts or communication, slowed reaction times, as well as various psychosocial problems.

However, it could also be the case that the action that caused the whiplash injury also leads to an actual traumatic brain injury. Whiplash occurs when an impact causes the neck to thrust forward or backwards at high speed and various angles. Typically, all of this happens within seconds, and the brain and body are not prepared.

The same exact mechanism of injury that causes whiplash can also lead to a traumatic brain injury. Our brains can be jostled inside of our skulls. The force of an impact, or in this case, the force of the rapid back and forth motion of the upper body or head, can lead to the brain slamming into the inside portions of the skull and then rebounding and hitting the opposite side of the skull from the initial impact. This can lead to brain bleeds or contusions – in other words, a traumatic brain injury.

Why This Can be Such a Problem

One of the main reasons that traumatic brain injuries associated with whiplash present such a major problem is that, as we mentioned above, the signs and symptoms of whiplash may mimic signs of a traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, this could lead to a diagnosis of whiplash when the problem is actually an injury to the brain.

When a brain injury goes undetected and undiagnosed, a person will likely not receive the correct treatment to ensure that the brain injury does not worsen. One of the main types of hidden injuries in the aftermath of a vehicle accident is a traumatic brain injury. When a TBI goes undetected, a person could experience brain swelling or prolonged bleeding inside of the skull that leads to the deterioration of brain cells and a loss of cognitive or physical functioning. Often, this type of damage is irreversible.