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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Can Whiplash Cause Concussion?

Can Whiplash Cause Concussion?

Dr. Alan Himmel

Talked about it before.  Let's talk about it again.  Can a mild whiplash cause a concussion?  The literature says, yes.  And, I have had several patients over the years, and one currently, who has the affects of post concussion syndrome.

Attorneys who represent injury clients need to be aware of this issue as well.  The most recent patient that I am treating who I am sure has suffered a concussion, has all of the symptoms of this injury, including headache, vertigo, disorientation, and confusion.  This will be a patient who will tell you that their head just doesn't feel the same since the accident.  It can be very frustrating to the patient, and the patient may find themselves searching doctors who could figure it out.  Oddly enough, attorneys will very often dismiss concussion, wanting to focus the claim on disc injuries and the usual soft tissue findings. Why?

I think that the major sticking point for attorneys is simply not understanding the physics involved in a car accident, and not knowing what a concussion actually is.

You don't have to strike your head against the inside of the car and you don't have to get hit in the head by something to cause concussion.  Think of it like this:  The brain is encased within the skull and around the brain is a thin layer of fluid which separates the brain from the inside of the skull so it does not touch (among other purposes of the fluid). The fluid is called cerebral spinal fluid or CSF.  So, the brain, in a way, is swimming in this fluid and the small fluid space between the brain and the inside surface of the skull is like a barrier because you don't want the brain to touch anything.

Okay, now think about what will happen to a person's head when at rest, when the car he is in is hit from behind.  The person's head will move in the direction of where the force came from.  This is one of Newton's laws of motion.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  But, what about the brain which is "floating" within the skull?  It too, must obey the laws of physics, and at this point, the brain will then crash into the inside of the skull on the opposite side.  Right there is your concussion.

Concussion mechanics.svg

Now, keep in mind that concussion is not always possible to see on MRI or CAT scan.  Concussion is regularly diagnosed based on neurological symptoms, signs, and complaints.  Lawyers and insurance companies want objective proof, but they cannot always have it with concussion.  The lawyer who is representing the client with concussion, must be aware of these things.  A lawyer who is representing injury clients must be an expert in the law, and although its not required to be trained like a physician, he should also have a working knowledge of different types of injuries involved.

So, keep an eye out for a concussion when whiplash is involved.  They are generally not life threatening, but concussions can be quite serious, and recurrent concussions can be even worse.

I can be reached at 954-659-8600

My office address is:

Alan Himmel, DC, PA.
3161 Dykes Road
Miramar, FL. 33027