Disorders Associated with Whiplash


Can you determine if there is  a correlation between the speed of a car and the amount of injury sustained? One would expect whiplash to occur when the speed of the collision is faster; and most of the time this is the case, especially when car accidents occur on highways at a faster speed.

However, a person can still sustain an extensive amount of injury even when the speed is quite slow and you see no damage to the vehicle. This phenomenon is explained through plastic vs. elastic deformity.

Plastic vs. Elastic deformity

“Plastic” is something that will break apart, for example your car vs. “elastic” is something that will bounce off without deforming or breaking apart.   Therefore, there will be more damage to the vehicle in plastic deformity and little to no damage in elastic deformity. When there is more metal crushing or more vehicular damage (plastic deformity), the G-forces associated with the crash are absorbed by the crushing metal, which in turn, exerts LESS G-forces to the contents inside the vehicle (ie, the occupants), resulting in less injury. On the other hand, in the stiffer, less damaged vehicle, the energy is not absorbed by crushing metal (elastic deformity), resulting in the contents or occupants inside the vehicle being jostled or thrown about to a greater extent (due to the higher G-forces are exerted) and are at a greater risk for a higher degree of injury.

G force

It is very important to understand the concept of G forces involved in car accidents because they will determine how badly you have gotten hurt and what is the best way to get treatment. To better explain the concept for G forces, let’s say that, we have a car that hits a solid brick wall at 10 mph that crushes in the front of the car 5 inches. In the second scenario, let’s keep the car at a speed 10 mph, but because of a different car design (stiffer frame such as a solid bumper-to-bumper chassis), the crush in this instance is only 2 inches. In the first example, the acceleration is found to be 8 G’s of force. In the second example, acceleration is equals about 20 Gs of force. Thus, a collision with the same velocity, but with a crush amount smaller by 2.5 times will have a resulting G force 2.5 times larger.

These facts are very important for you, your family and your doctor to understand, especially if there is legal action being taken in the case.  Therefore, it is important for you to choose a health care provider who understands and appreciates the potential impact this information carries when addressing your health related needs and communicating this information to others involved in a case.

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