Whiplash and Car Accidents in Maryland
The number of people that die in automobile crashes is more than the count that dies from HIV/ AIDS! Automobile crash ranks 8th in leading causes of death worldwide across all age groups.
Crashes are the major cause of death for the demography of children and youngsters.
As many as 20 to 50 million people experience non-fatal injuries as a result of accidents. Many people become disabled following an accident injury. A whiplash injury is a common injury arising from car accidents in Maryland.
What is a Whiplash Injury in Maryland?
A whiplash injury occurs in the neck. It is a result of a swift and intense back-and-forth motion experienced by the neck and head. The movement can also be vice-versa. The intensity of the movement is similar to that of whip-cracking.
Whiplash injuries are usually a result of car accidents involving rear-end collisions. Parts of the neck, including nerves, muscles, tendons and discs, are affected due to a whiplash injury.
Symptoms of a Whiplash Injury
Survivors witness whiplash symptoms over days immediately after the accident. Symptoms include:
- Stiffness and pain in the neck
- Severe pain upon moving the neck
- Inability to move the neck around
- Pain or tenderness in the shoulder(s)
- Pain or tenderness in the arms or upper back
- Numbness in the hands or arms
- Pain in the lower back
- Headache that usually begins in the region of the skull base
Some people may also experience:
- Tinnitus or a ringing sound in the ears
- Blurring of vision
- Sleep loss
- Memory or focus problems
It is possible to mistake these symptoms for those of any other medical condition. If you have had an accident and are experiencing these problems, then visit a doctor immediately.
Whiplash injuries can damage any or many part(s) of the neck, including spinal bones, discs positioned between bones, muscles, ligaments and other neck tissues. Your doctor will go through your medical history and conduct a physical exam as part of diagnosis.
The doctor may prescribe the following tests for an accurate diagnosis:
Damage is assessed using images of the internal bones, tissues and organs. The process creates images by projecting electromagnetic rays. Sometimes, soft tissue damage may not be visible on an X-Ray film. Other tests may be prescribed in such cases.
MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Computerized images of internal body parts including soft tissues are produced. This process uses radio waves and magnetic waves to produce required images.
CT or Computerized Tomography Scan
A CT is more detailed than an X-Ray. It involves producing images of required body parts from different angles. Axial or horizontal images of muscles, bones, organs or other parts, as recommended by the doctor, are taken.
Whiplash treatment depends on severity of symptoms. Many people may respond effectively to medications, physical therapy, chiropractic therapy, and exercise. Some people may require specialized pain management in addition to medications. The recovery time is different for different patients.
In cases where patients experience sudden intense whiplash symptoms initially, the risk of chronic pain is more.
You are more at risk of a chronic pain diagnosis if your initial symptoms included:
- Intense neck pain
- Decreased range of motion in the neck
- Spreading of pain to the arms
- You are more vulnerable to chronic pain in case any of these factors applies to you:
- Advanced age
- A history of whiplash
- Already suffering from pain in the neck or lower back
Treatments are aimed at reducing pain, improving the range of motion of your neck, and enabling you to perform your daily activities.
- Ice or Heat Application – For milder pains, ice or thermal application may be prescribed. Patients usually apply hot or cold packs on the neck for 15 minutes in 3-hour intervals.
- Medications – Over-the-Counter medicines are prescribed for moderate whiplash injury pains. Severe pains may warrant antidepressant medications as they have been known to offer relief from nerve pain.
- Injections – Pain-numbing injections are administered on painful areas for pain relief. A physical therapy session usually follows.
- Muscle Relaxants – Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants for a short duration to loosen affected muscles and decrease pain. You may also be prescribed muscle relaxant drugs for inducing sleep in case of sleep loss due to pain.
- Exercises – Light stretching exercises may be prescribed as you recover to improve your neck’s motion range. Warm showers and heat application may be recommended in addition.
- Physical & Chiropractic Therapy – A physical therapist or Chiropractor will create an exercise routine personalized to your condition. It can help you with managing ongoing pain, preventing further injury, and achieving an improved range of movement.
Exercises recommended by the physical therapist make your muscles strong, and improve your neck and head posture. Upon persistent practice, these exercises restore normal range of neck movements.
A TENS or Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation treatment may be performed. In this treatment, your healthcare provider applies a prescribed strength of electric current to your skin. TENS can improve muscle strength and decrease neck pain.
You may be asked to undergo multiple sessions of physical therapy in case of severe injuries.
- Foam Collars – Your doctor may prescribe a soft cervical collar to prevent any movement of the neck and head. This can reduce pain and improve sleep. Duration for wearing foam collars can vary. Most don't need a collar for very long.
Some experts advise strongly against wearing the collar for over 72 hours. Others recommend a duration of up to 3 hours every day for some weeks.
How to Reduce Whiplash Risk?
Airbags reduce the risk of whiplash injuries. Airbags inflate during a collision. They are designed with tiny holes through which air passes out for safe deflation after inflation.
Deflation prevents rapid back-and-forth movement of the head and neck during a collision, reducing the risk of whiplash injury. Deflation imparts a cushioning effect to the neck and head.
Replace older cars with newer ones with better safety features. Since severe whiplash injuries can affect the quality of your life, it is better to use safer new cars.
Head restraints or head rests positioned on top of car seats reduce whiplash injury risks. Head rests restrain the movement of the head during motion. In the case of an accident, they work by reducing the intensity of a whiplash.
Choosing cars with better quality ratings for headrests can help you prevent whiplash injuries.
A whiplash injury is common after a car accident. Immediate medical attention can prevent worsening of injury damage. Following doctor’s instructions strictly can help you manage pain and recover faster. You can lower the chances of severe whiplash with modern cars designed for safety as well as convenience.
Seeking legal action is as important as seeking medical attention for accident injuries. With the best legal guidance, you can claim compensation for physical injuries and mental trauma you had to undergo as a result of the accident.