Can You Get a Concussion From Whiplash?

Car accidents happen every day on Texas roads and elsewhere across the United States. Some accidents may seem minor, but even a relatively mild accident that’s little more than a fender-bender can cause tremendous force on the body. Even when traveling at a relatively slow 30mph, a 100-pound motorist becomes a 3,000-pound force in a collision.

In an accident, a seatbelt provides life-saving protection by preventing the body from being propelled against the interior of the vehicle or through the windshield during the crash. While a seatbelt protects the torso by limiting its motion, the motorist’s head and neck may sustain serious injury from the crash force alone during an accident. As noted by our Austin car accident lawyers, whiplash and concussions are common injuries diagnosed in car accident victims.

Understanding Whiplash and Brain Injuries

During a collision, the body continues moving forward at the speed the car was traveling while the vehicle comes to a sudden halt around it. This force propels motorists inside the vehicle forward against the seatbelt which keeps them secured to the seat. During the crash, the motorist’s head and neck make a sudden, powerful back-and-forth motion like a whip. Whiplash injuries occur when the delicate vertebrae, tendons, and ligaments in the neck become stretched and damaged during the sudden jolt and rapid back-and-forth motion.

During the rapid jarring that causes whiplash neck injury, the brain may also become jostled inside the skull. Despite the protection of a cushioning layer of fluid and the bony skull, the brain is still sensitive to damage occurring inside the skull in an accident. During a powerful whiplash injury, the brain may twist inside the skull, bumping against the bone and tearing tiny blood vessels while it twists. Then, bleeding, bruising, and swelling occur, resulting in a concussion.

What is a Concussion?

When the brain sustains injury due to outside forces it’s called a traumatic brain injury (TBI) A concussion is a TBI that ranges in severity from mild to severe. It’s possible to get a concussion due to whiplash when the brain is jostled during the same crash event that causes whiplash injury to the neck.

Symptoms of Whiplash and Concussion

Whiplash symptoms may occur immediately after an accident or could develop during the hours and days following the accident as inflammation occurs. Symptoms of whiplash include the following:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Tenderness in the neck
  • Headaches
  • Numbness and tingling in the shoulders and arms
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

The same rapid, jostling motion that damages the structures inside the neck may also significantly jostle the brain inside the skull causing a concussion. Symptoms of a concussion include the following:

  • Headache
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of concentration
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and hands
  • Seizures

Since whiplash and concussions share some of the same symptoms, it’s important to have a thorough medical evaluation after an accident. Be sure to tell the doctor about all of your symptoms. 

Car accident victims may have whiplash, a concussion, or both whiplash and a concussion. Speak to an Austin brain injury lawyer to learn more.