Whiplash Brain Injury

A Sudden Jolt


A Traumatic Brain Injury can happen in two ways. First the brain can become bruised when the head strikes a hard object. The second way is known as a 'Whiplash' brain injury, this occurs the head is suddenly whiplashed or severely jolted without hitting a hard object. In more serious whiplash injuries, the nerve in the brain and spine are stretched so much that they are damaged.

What Happens During Whiplash

This kind of trauma stretches and damages delicate nerve cells, at times causing very significant injury or even death. In the case of whiplash, severe forces that may shake or rotate the brain enough to cause permanent brain damage. Whiplash damage can occur from roller coasters, rear ed collisions, skiing accidents or any other circumstance in which a person is hit or shaken. Symptoms can appear directly after the injury, but often are not felt until days afterwards.

Hard To See

Whiplash Brain InjuryDiagnosis of whiplash uses information such as can the patient achieve the full motion, or has excessive range of motion, or chronic pain. X-rays usually can not image this kind of damage so an MRI is used instead. In severe whiplash brain injuries torn ligaments of the head-neck-joint can occur. These can not be seen using regular imaging devices. That is why functional imaging is essential to show ligament damage.

Checking For Permanent Damage

One of the first questions people want to know after such a whiplash brain injury is, 'is it permanent?'. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult for a doctor to predict. Doctors will make a guess based upon criteria such as loss of consciousness, post traumatic Amnesia, Concussion, or swelling of the brain. There are signs in the body that parts of the brain may not be functioning. If the person is having a seizure could indicate severe brain damage. One other assessment that a doctor may use in order to decide the extent of brain damage from whiplash is PERL (Pupils are Equal and Reactive to Light). If they are unequal or unreactive in a comatose patient after a head injury this may signify a dangerous rise in pressure in the skull. This could indicate that surgery is necessary to relieve the elevated pressure.

Treating Whiplash

There isn't whole lot that can be done to correct a whiplash brain injury. Aside from a cervical collar to isolate and immobilize the neck, most treatment is aimed at making the patient more comfortable and lessening the symptoms of the accident. Medications can be prescribed to treat pain, inflammation, depression and to relax the muscles. Following the accident and regimen of physical therapy can usually return any loss range of motion.


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