Auto accidents are more common than we would like to admit. The average driver, and that’s probably you, has a greater chance of getting into a car crash on a 1,000 mile trip (1 in 366). than a professional bowler has in bowling a perfect game (1 in 460).
While auto accident fatalities appear as a small percentage of all car crashes (roughly 0.7%), they are still significant in raw numbers at approximately 40,000 per year in the U.S. alone. Further, about half of all auto accidents lead to injuries, while one third lead to permanent injury. These statistics (gathered from government agencies and the auto insurance industry) should inspire every driver to wear seat belts, but enigmatically, estimates show one in every seven people fails to do so regularly. This is mind-boggling considering seat belts are shown to reduce the risk of death by 45% and the risk of serious injury by 50%.
As a chiropractor who has treated hundreds of people in personal injury cases, I can attest that seat belts save lives. I can also attest that seat belts increase injury. I know, I know, I already said they decrease serious injury by 50%, but there is a difference between whiplash and being smashed through the windshield. So understand that while seat belts do prevent the latter from happening they also increase injuries such as whiplash and low back pain.
One injury that I see all too common in my Los Angeles personal injury treatment practice is the chronic post-traumatic headache. Head injuries are not uncommon in car accidents and they can result from hitting one’s head on the dashboard, steering wheel or window, but they can also arise from the snapping of the head in an acceleration-deceleration mechanism so common to whiplash neck pain injuries. Essentially when one is involved in an auto accident, one’s body is travelling at the same speed as the vehicle, once there is an impact, the car may stop (or shift its trajectory) but the individual will continue to travel in the same direction of the car’s original movement. However, because of the seat belt locking into place and restraining the person, it jerks him or her in an opposing direction leading to what we call an acceleration-deceleration injury. So, again, while that scenario saves lives and “serious injury” by preventing the person from going through the windshield, it does lead to increased soft tissue injury (muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, spinal disks, and nerves).
If airbags are deployed, which happens on heavy impacts, then you can count on an even greater increase in injury to the occupants involved. I have treated more than a few people who have been on the receiving end of an airbag – they often come in with bruises, broken noses, and concussions. One of my patients was knocked unconscious for several minutes from a deployed airbag. If airbags are deployed, the risk of suffering chronic head injury increases significantly.
If you are in a car accident and the airbags are released, you may need to visit the emergency room to have a head injury assessment performed immediately. If you have a concussion, you may experience the following:
- Lack of coordination
- Memory loss
- Ringing in the ears
- Excessive fatigue
One of my patients complained of the inability to find words to convey what she wished to express. This lasted for more than one week, so I sent her to a neurologist. She was diagnosed with a post-traumatic concussion and given instruction on how to monitor it. She also learned how it would most likely resolve, easing her already shaken nerves. So if my personal injury clients do not go to the ER following an airbag-deployed auto accident, I monitor their symptoms and progress, and will send them to a neurologist when warranted.
Once the acute nature of the injury passes and healing begins, I treat the patient with gentle chiropractic care in the appropriate areas, and also apply soft tissue therapy to ease the pain of muscle spasms. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting conservative care immediately to lessen the chance of the injuries becoming chronic. Far too many people neglect this crucial step and suffer for years, sometimes never putting two and two together, and wonder why they have regular headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, or difficulty sleeping. I had one young lady in her mid-twenties come see me because she could not sleep adequately. Upon investigation, I found that about five years earlier she had run her car off the road, rolling several times over. She thought that because she had walked away from the accident she was fine, and she only was able to connect her difficulty in sleeping to the accident once I had mentioned it.
Post-traumatic headaches are more common than you’d think. Many think they have “migraines” because of the severity of the pain in their skulls, but migraines are headaches of a particular type, while pain intensity can be high in every type of headache. If you have had a car accident but were never treated for your injuries, or if you were like my young patient who thought she was fine since she walked away from her accident, then your headaches may be a direct consequence of that impact. If airbags were deployed, then I would assume any pain from your head down to your upper-mid back are related to that double-whammy.
There is no reason why you cannot find relief from your chronic headaches, neck pain, or upper-mid back pain. Many people are surprised at the results they get with safe, natural chiropractic care. In my West Hollywood practice, I also teach clients what they can do on their own to speed up the healing and prevent the headaches or neck pain from returning. At the very least, headache sufferers have a place to come for instant relief if their headaches return from time to time. Along with the pain relief offered by chiropractic, the nervous system is almost always affected positively from chiropractic care, and this facilitates healing. If you have been in a car accident, either recently or years ago, please contact me for an evaluation. If you were hit hard enough for your airbags to deploy, then I wouldn’t hesitate even another day – you were likely injured and could have problems years later as a result. Don’t take that chance, get your auto accident head injuries evaluated today. Call for appointment.