Chiropractor in Amarillo Discussing Amarillo Car Wreck

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Today, I am going to do my best to explain why car wreck injuries can be so severe even when it appears there is minor damage.

It’s called “inertia.”

Definition of inertia – the property of matter by which it retains its state of rest or its velocity along a straight line so long as it is not acted upon by an external force.

What that means is that, if you are traveling at 30 mph and your car is struck head on, your body will keep moving at 30 mph while your car will slow down. In fact, your body will keep moving at that speed until an external force (seat belt, dashboard, steering wheel) stops you. Well, that doesn’t sound very healthy, right?

Let’s talk about 30 mph for just a minute. That really doesn’t sound like a big number when we talk about speed. Especially considering that the current land speed record sits at 760 mph! But consider that a shark can only swim up to 25 mph. The world record holder in the 100m dash, Usain Bolt, can only muster up 23.35 mph. And, the most famous racing horse ever, Secretariat, averaged around 37 mph. So, you see, 30 mph is not necessarily a low speed and definitely not too low to have some injuries from a car wreck at that speed.

The most common injury from auto accidents must be whiplash.

Whiplash injury: Hyperextension (over-extension) injury to the neck, often the result of being struck from behind, as by a fast-moving vehicle in a car accident. The mechanics of whiplash injury are thought to be as follows: The victim may be first pushed or accelerated forward, pushing the body forward, but the head remains behind momentarily, rocking up and back, and some muscles and ligaments may be stretched or torn. These muscles, in a reflex action, contract to bring the head forward again, to prevent excessive injury. There may be overcompensation when the head is traveling in a forward direction as the vehicle decelerates. This may rock the head violently forward, stretching and tearing more muscles and ligaments.

New information from new studies has come about recently. It seems the mechanism of whiplash is to be lifted up from your seat slightly (possibly causing low back issues), then a swift and severe extension of your neck, then dropping back into the seat as the seat belt catches you, followed by swift and severe flexion of your neck. Basically, you can have a sprain/strain of your low back from the lifting and dropping out of and back into your seat. You can have thoracic sprain/strain from the seat belt position. And it is obvious that your neck is most likely going to hurt for quite some time. If the wreck is severe enough, you can also have serious tearing of the ligaments and connective tissue in the front and the back of the neck. But, even in minor accidents, you can suffer what is called micro-tearing of these ligaments. Meaning that you can have pain and eventual scar tissue that’s cause isn’t completely obvious from an MRI. This is the most important argument in favor of treatment and complete rehab of an automobile accident injury.

I would say whiplash is definitely the most common injury we see from our Amarillo car wreck patients. The problem is that the insurance companies have a little equation they use to assess what personal injury amount they will pay for. This equation takes into effect the speed at which the car was traveling. Although there are plenty of studies refuting this tactic, they continue to use it. They refuse to tell anyone exactly what the equation is but they still use it. For example, you may be driving a BMW and have very little damage to the car itself but the damage is $4000. Or you may be driving a 15 year old car an have plenty of damage that is only worth $1500. And it is guessed that the insurance companies use the damage amount in their equation which affects the personal injury payout. This is not a good thing. I have said it before in this blog and I’ll say it again. This is why you most likely should call an Amarillo attorney for an Amarillo car wreck if the damage is anything beyond a fender bender.

Even I learned something with this blog. I never knew how fast Usain Bolt or Secretariat could run!