Many of the injured people who come to me for help suffer from neck, back and brain injuries resulting from rear end collisions. Based on my experience and the findings of noted personal injury author Arthur C. Croft, DC, MS, FACO, these injuries are common but many physicians fail to comprehend the forces at play and the seriousness of injuries caused. These injuries can result in lifelong disability and pain.
I have invited insurance adjusters who claim that no one could be injured in a “low speed” collision to sit blindfolded in a target vehicle and allow me to rear end that vehicle with another at a moderate speed of 5 to 10 miles an hour. I have never had anyone take me up on this. There are YouTube videos available demonstrating what happens to the human body when a car is struck from the rear at these comparatively low speeds. The head is heavy and the forces act almost instantaneously. Back when cars showed crush damage, a lot of the energy given up by the striking vehicle was absorbed in heat and deformation of metal and plastic parts. Today, however, cars are designed not to show damage but instead to attenuate or delay for a few milliseconds the transmission of energy to minimize damage to automotive parts. Unfortunately, the delay that preserves the automobile does little or nothing to prevent injury when the car accelerates forward.
These accidents and the transfer of severe energy pulses to the bodies of unaware victims, happens so fast that most victims can’t even remember what happened to them. Often the weight of the passenger loads up the seat back with energy as the vehicle is pushed out from under him. His head flies back and then the seat back unloads the energy and springs forward flinging the passenger to wrap around the seatbelt and shoulder harness. Often unaware accident victims when asked, will say they did not hit themselves on anything inside the vehicle, when they indeed violently struck their heads and torsos on the head rest and seat of the vehicle and then on the restraint systems, then back on the seat and head rest again.
Neck pain is the single most common complaint following a whiplash injury.
The complex structures of the human neck are easily injured at the forces and energies generated even by low speed vehicle collisions. It is the almost instantaneous acceleration of the body which is pushed out from under the unrestrained human cranium that tears and injures these micro structures. It’s no wonder people suffer weakness confusion, clumsiness, tingling and pain in their necks shoulders and arms following these traumatic events. The fibers within the discs that cushion the joints of the vertebral bones can and are often crushed and permanently deformed by these traumas.
Low back pain is also a common type of injury. The rapid flexion and extension of the joints in the low back stretch and tear muscles and ligaments and compress and herniate the vertebral discs.
Brain injuries are often seen as a result of these reared collisions and whiplash injuries even without loss of consciousness. The jelly-like consistency of the human brain allows it to slap back and forth inside the rugged interior of the cranium, stretching and tearing fine structures in the brain. Recent advances in MRI technology allow this fine “axonal shearing” to be routinely imaged if the proper protocols are requested by attorneys or physicians. Many of my clients have extended periods of confusion, memory trouble, emotional upset, fatigue and other nervous system disorders. Although I am not a physician, I have seen the vacant, numb stare of these unfortunate individuals from across my desk many times in the past.
Other victims complain of hormonal problems, headaches, visual problems, ear problems (both ringing and dizziness), and pain and popping in the jaw joints.
The symptoms are so varied that it is critical for anyone who suffers injury in a rear end collision to be thoroughly evaluated by someone familiar with these injuries and the wide variety of symptoms that can result. The most important thing an accident victim can remember is to: tell every doctor, every problem, on every visit.