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The physiology of whiplash injuries

Most people in British Columbia are familiar with whiplash as a type of injury, but they may not know what happens physiologically to a person's body at the moment of impact that causes the whiplash. Most studies investigating this have simulated rear-end vehicle collisions, and this is one of the most common types of accidents that results in whiplash.

A complex series of events occur throughout the body that create the injury we commonly refer to as whiplash, but in short, after impact, the pelvis moves forward more quickly than the upper torso, and this in turn creates neck movement while the head is still stationary. Forces also act on the cervical spine. A lack of head restraint or a distance between the head and the restraint influences the strength of this force. The head and torso go backward and forward, and a neck injury is the result.

Based on experiments on both animals and humans, researchers have not identified a single agreed-upon site in the neck area where whiplash injury occurs. One difficulty is that whiplash injuries can take varied forms. These may include fractures and tears or bruising to ligaments. The cervical facet joint in the spine is where researchers believe chronic whiplash may originate.

An individual who is suffering from whiplash or other injuries as the result of a car accident may want to consult a lawyer about filing a lawsuit. While an individual usually recovers quickly from whiplash, it can take weeks or months, and in that time, the individual may miss work and incur medical expenses. There may be expenses related to other injuries as well. The process of filing an accident claim and pursing that claim in court may be complex, and a lawyer might be of assistance in getting adequate compensation.

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