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What’s the Difference Between Whiplash and a Concussion?

By Butler Prather LLP on November 23, 2020

Whiplash and concussion are two common injuries associated with vehicle accidents. However, both of these injuries can occur in any number of ways other than vehicle accidents, including sports injuries, slip and fall accidents, workplace incidents, and more. While whiplash and concussions may both be common injuries, they are both very different. If you are involved in a vehicle accident or other incident, it is possible to sustain one or both of these injuries. Here, we want to discuss the difference between whiplash and concussion when it comes to vehicle accidents in our area.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is common in all types of vehicle accidents. Anytime the force of an accident causes the head and neck to snap back and forth rapidly, this rapid acceleration in deceleration can cause the tissues and muscle in the shoulders and neck to overextend. The result is a whiplash injury.

How do I know if I have whiplash?

Car accident victims may not realize that they have sustained whiplash injury right away, as these symptoms may not manifest immediately. It is not uncommon for the signs and symptoms of whiplash to occur hours or even days after a vehicle accident occurs. Some of the main signs and symptoms of whiplash injuries include the following:

  • Limited range of motion with your head and neck
  • Stiff neck
  • Tenderness in the neck and shoulders
  • Pain moving your head side to side or back and forth
  • Headaches at the base of the skull

It is imperative that vehicle accident victims seek medical assistance as soon as possible if they begin to experience the signs and symptoms of whiplash injuries.

What is a concussion?

Concussions differ from whiplash injuries in that they involve the head itself. While the mechanism of a concussion and whiplash may be similar, the end result is different. A concussion is actually considered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), and these injuries must be taken seriously. A concussion can occur anytime a person suffers a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or their body.

This rapid movement of the body or head, or the impact of the head with a fixed object, can cause the brain to move around inside of the skull. This can lead to the brain impacting the skull, causing bruising or swelling.

How do I know if I have a concussion?

Similar to whiplash, the signs and symptoms of concussions may not manifest themselves immediately after an incident occurs. However, even though concussions are considered mild traumatic brain injuries, they must be taken seriously. Some of the signs and symptoms of a concussion include the following:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Forgetfulness or memory problems
  • Feeling groggy or sluggish
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Inability to answer questions
  • Behavioral or mood changes
  • Clumsy movements

If a car accident victim has sustained an impact to the head, they need to seek medical attention immediately, regardless of how severe they think the injuries may be. An untreated concussion could lead to a more significant brain injury. The effects of concussions are successive, meaning that if a person sustains another blow to the head before they have healed from a concussion, this could result in a more severe injury and possible brain damage.

Posted in: Car Accidents

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