The Whiplash – What is it?
Whiplash is common in car crashes. But is it real? In the past, it was not possible to “prove” whiplash. That left some badly injured people unable to get fair compensation for their pain.
Here’s a post from a forum that highlights a common occurrence in car crash cases, followed by my answer.
Question: Hi, does anyone know the basic compensation for whiplash? My hubby and I got hit from behind not so long ago; we were just ready to pull off when a car smacked into us doing roughly 25 mph.
I went to the hospital just after the accident as I had a burning sensation in my neck but was told it was a normal whiplash injury. We have been to see the medical examiner this week, and he said it would be roughly 6-9 months before we will be fully recovered.
I still have neck ache and get more headaches than usual and was just wondering if anyone else on here has been in the same situation?
Answer: Whiplash is defined in the Mosby Medical Encylopedia as “an injury to the neck vertebrae or their supporting ligaments and muscles. There are pain and stiffness. It usually results from sudden speeding or slowing down, as in a rear-end collision that causes a violent back and forth movement of the head and neck.”
Injuries from whiplash can range from minor sprains that heal quickly to severe spine damage that results in death. So there is no “basic compensation” for whiplash.
Sometimes the supporting ligaments and muscles do not heal quickly. There can be a great deal of pain. This is unfortunate because damage to ligaments and muscles does not show up on ordinary x-rays.
To get fair compensation for whiplash you need to be able to prove it in an objective fashion. Finders of fact like juries and arbitrators are not sympathetic to mere complaints of pain. They need to see it.
There are several methods of “showing” whiplash injury.
Thermography is a method for sensing and recording on film hot and cold areas of the body using an infrared detector that reacts to blood flow. Thermography pictures often show whiplash type damage to muscles and ligaments as areas of “hyperthermia”–a much higher than normal body temperature.
To find a thermography clinic in your area go to the website of the American College of Clinical Thermology (ACCT) at http://www.thermologyonline.org.
Here you will find a list of ACCT approved thermography clinics.
If you don’t find one listed for your state try a Google search.
While an ordinary set of x-rays won’t show whiplash, there is a unique set that will. This three-view study of the neck is taken from the side while the head is forward (flexion), straight up, and backward (extension). The forward and back views are then compared. Excessive movement (known as “translation”) is measured and if more than .35 millimeters the finding is considered abnormal.
Under the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), this condition qualifies for a very large impairment rating.
For case workup purposes it is best if the x-rays are taken under the supervision of and read by a Board Certified radiologist medical doctor who has experience reading this type of x-ray.
Special software has been developed to “read” these x-rays. Reports based on this software have been very persuasive with fact-finders such as mediators and arbitrators as they take the human element out of the diagnosis.
Finding an expert in this type of test is a little more difficult. You may need to do a little research to find one in your area.
Ligaments like this exist in the neck to prevent excessive motion of the cervical spine. These ligaments are crucial in the neck to hold the vertebrae together and prevent instability of the joints. These ligaments are vulnerable to injury in a car accident doctor.
X-rays can also detect ligament damage and are far less expensive than an MRI. Extension and flexion x-rays are the common x-rays utilized to diagnose ligament instability inside the neck. The x-rays are taken as the patient bends their head forward and back. The x-rays show if there is the excessive movement of the vertebrae which signifies there is harm to the ligaments.
Chiropractors are a good option for treatment of whiplash injuries.Southern Nevada Chiropractic is trained to perform a detailed history and exam to determine the extent of the problem and the best treatment for the injury.Car accident chiropractor adjustments help to correct misaligned bones and mobilize fixated segments that may be overloading the area of instability in the neck. They also perform therapy modalities to help heal muscles and injured soft tissue. They can also recommend particular posture training and exercises to help heal the area injured through car accident treatment.
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