The symptoms of whiplash are diverse and can be very confusing. That is because there is often injury to the brain, spinal-cord and cervical spine.
It behooves every person behind the wheel of a motor-vehicle to drive mindfully; without a doubt speed not only kills but also maims, often for life.
Those founding drinking alcohol above certain limits, or found texting and even using cellphones should lose their license to drive for an extended period. The likelihood of them causing death and destruction rises exponentially.
The brainstem, circled above, controls breathing, heart-rate and is the source of most of the cranial nerves that supply the face, jaw and neck. It is also an essential part that maintains how well we sleep.
So quite apart from a concussion of the brain itself, or an injury to the cervical-spine, the symptoms of whiplash can be very diverse.
High-speed accidents not only kill but can ruin the rest of a person's life; for every death, ten people are seriously injured.
Alcohol plays a role in over 50pc of motor-vehicle accidents in South Africa. Loss of life and the symptoms of whiplash are simply staggering. Traffic authorities appear to have little appetite for controlling the mayhem.
Mrs X was in the turning-lane, stationary behind another car, when she was hit from behind by a vehicle traveling at full speed; the driver was texting on her cellphone, oblivious of the fact that she was about to cause a serious injury both to herself and another person.
Mrs X fortunately was wearing a safety-belt but her head and neck took the full impact of the car that drove into her vehicle; witnesses said the driver made no attempt to brake whatsoever.
She suffered a very serious slipped-disc in her neck with severe pain radiating down her arm. The motor nerve to the triceps muscle was injured causing paresis of the limb.
Mrs X was fortunate in that gentle manipulative treatment released the pressure on the sensory and motor nerves. Pain in the neck and arm were completely relieved within a few weeks.
It takes several months for the strength of the muscle to return after injury to the motor-nerve. My experience is that if the pain in the arm is totally reduced, compression of the cervical spine becomes normal and the upper limb tension test is completely relieved then the power slowly returns.
Nevertheless anxious weeks remain to determine whether she should have taken the surgeon's advice to immediately undergo a procedure to reduce the slipped-disc.
Symptoms of whiplash covered in this column will be from motor-vehicle accidents.
Luckily for Mrs X she suffered none of the more bizarre symptoms that frequently follow after a whiplash injury. Once the severe pain in her arm was reduced she again slept normally; she experienced no dizziness or headaches.
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