Car crashes, accidents, fender benders and whiplash. They happen in Brisbane every day (how's that traffic along the Gateway from North Lakes to the CBD and back again?) It seems that unless it is over 80km an hour that is not high impact and that it does not affect your body. Not true. Dangerously not true.
Did the Car Crumple or Did You?
We think that sitting in a car we are protected from the impact of a collision. Modern cars are designed to take the impact of a major collision. This is why they collapse and crumple. However, that only happens in high speed collisions. If the impact is "low" - i.e., low enough that there might be a scrape, divot or bend to the fender but not to the body to the car - it means that the impact was not absorbed by the vehicle, but instead transmitted through everything and everyone inside of the car at the time of the hit.
A Bit of Perspective from the Fastest Man in the World
Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter and "fastest man in the world" over 100-200 metre distance can sprint about 40km an hour. Now let's take you or I in our mortal bodies and sprint as fast as we can ... straight into a wall! How much impact or force comes from going from 30, 20 or even just 10kph to a dead stop?
If you need to picture what just 8kph does, check out this video. Watch it again and look what happens to your head and neck even with the safety strap. That, my friends, is whiplash. And again, if the car does NOT crumple because it was "just a little fender bender" or a "little accident," all that force goes straight into your spine.
The Paramedics Said I Was Fine After the Car Accident
Partially correct. You may not have broken and bones or dislocated anything - in fact, you may not even have any blood or bruising - but that does not mean that something did not shift beneath the surface just enough that it will not cause problems later down the track. As a bit of shocking news, car accidents and whiplash-type injuries are associated with a wide variety of neurological problems that usually do not appear for 10-20 years following the accident:
- headaches or migraines (although these usually show up pretty quick)
- dizziness or vertigo with ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)
- neurodegenerative conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia and Parkinson's
For these reasons (and more), I am a fervent advocate that all people who have been in a car accident or whiplash incident NO MATTER HOW "MINOR" be assessed by an Upper Cervical Chiropractor as soon as possible post-incident to check that the injury has not created some insidious problem that may manifest later in life.
Problems may still happen, and likely if there is an initial injury there will still need to be care with a physiotherapist and/or other rehab provider, but this one critical thing - i.e., making sure that you did not traumatise the joints of your neck that affect your brain and spinal cord - can only be assessed by someone who specialises in the alignment of your upper neck.
Are you actually fine or do you just think you're fine?
What does the Fastest Man in the World and a Car Accident Have in Common? Both can cause serious damage at just 40kph! And both need chiropractic care!