Top 5 factors for neck injury in a car accident

Matthew J. DeGaetano, DC and Kyle Meers, DC

Certified in Personal Injury

 What is whiplash?

The term “whiplash” is used to describe a variety of neck injuries that often occur in rear-end crashes. The most common of these are mild muscle strain and minor tearing of soft tissue. Other injuries include nerve damage, disk damage and, in the most severe cases, ruptures of ligaments in the neck and fractures of the cervical vertebrae. Nerve damage, which can occur even when other injuries are mild, is probably responsible for long-term problems.

What are the top 5 factors influence the severity of neck injury?

The majority of studies on whiplash have focused on adult front-seat occupants. Unless otherwise noted, the following facts pertain to people sitting in front.

Height:  According to German research, height is a risk factor for neck injury, particularly among females.  Shorter people often are protected by unadjusted head restraints. Stature may not play as big a role in the severity of injuries among males because many head restraints are too low to protect even shorter males. Taller motorists who do not adjust their head restraints are more likely to sustain whiplash injuries.

 Gender:  The same German report found females to be 1.8 to 2.2 times more at risk of neck injury in all types of collisions, a finding consistent with research by the Institute and other organizations. A Swedish study found that females with whiplash injuries were more likely to develop long-term symptoms.   Fifty-five percent of females who sustained whiplash injuries went on to develop long-term symptoms compared with 38 percent of males.  The risk of disability for drivers has been shown to be 3 times as high for females as for males; in rear seats, females’ risk is 4 times as high.  One possible explanation is that males have more neck musculature than females for about the same size head. The Institute studied insurance data and found female drivers in a rear-end crash were more likely than male drivers to report a neck injury.

 Seating position:  It is uncertain which seating position exposes an occupant to the greatest chance of neck injury. One study concluded that drivers have a higher risk of injury than passengers.   It was hypothesized that drivers are prone to move forward and away from the seatback as they reach for the steering wheel and observe traffic around them, whereas passengers usually are more relaxed and lean further back in their seats, with their heads closer to the restraint.

Research studies are inconsistent in their findings of neck injury risk for front and rear seat passengers. One study found that rear-seat passengers, are less likely than front-seat occupants to sustain neck injuries.  Another study found that the risk of neck injury among females was lowest in the front passenger seat and significantly higher in the rear.   The same study found that injury risk for males was higher in the front seat than in the rear seat.

 Vehicle size/weight:  The size and weight of the struck and striking vehicles may influence neck injury risk. A study of insurance claims found that drivers struck by vehicles heavier than the one they were driving were more likely to claim neck injuries than drivers struck by vehicles of approximately equal or lesser weight.  Drivers of rear-struck cars were more likely to claim a neck injury than drivers of rear-struck SUVs.

 Seat/head restraint geometry:  Restraints can be classified into one of four geometric zones defined by their height and backset (distance from the back of the head to the front of the restraint). Based on these factors, the Institute assigns ratings of good, acceptable, marginal or poor. Institute research has shown that vehicles with geometric head restraints rated good have 24 percent lower driver neck injury rates than vehicles with restraints rated poor.

There you have it!  If you have been in an accident and are looking for a top chiropractor in cedar park, give us a call!  Dr. Kyle Meers has been a cedar park chiropractor for many years helping patients recover from car accidents and auto injuries.  Call now at 512-257-9500 for our no charge evaluation of your case or check us out on our website.  |  Cedar Park Spine & Injury

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