Auto Accidents a Chiropractors Perspective

When describing the bio-mechanics of auto injuries we need to first understand what bio-mechanics is. Mechanics is a physics term that has to do with the natural forces that act on an object whether it is moving or stationary. Bio-mechanics is related to those forces acting on something that is alive, and for our purposes we are referring to the passengers in an automobile. This post will answer some interesting questions related to automobile collisions and dispel some information we always thought to be true.

1. Who gets hurt worse in an automobile accident? An older person or a younger person?

The older person usually has pre-existing conditions and lack muscle strength and mass relative to their overall size. The stronger and more mass a muscle has, the less body movement occurs. Movement is what injures the body in an accident and because older people have more movement occur they are usually hurt worse. This is the same reason women are typically hurt worse in automobile accidents.

2. If a car hit you in the rear at 10 mph how fast would your head move forward? 10 mph? 20 mph? 30 mph? All of the above?

Your head moves faster than your neck and it depends on not only how fast the car was going, but also the size of the vehicle that hit you and the size of your vehicle. So the answer to this one is All of the above.

3. We all know that seat and shoulder belts save lives, but by what degree do they reduce neck and back injuries? 50% 30% 0%

Lap belts act as a hinge, forcing you to bend forward rapidly, this can cause more injury. Shoulder belts across one shoulder cause the body to twist in an accident, so the correct answer is 0%.

4. Lets say the road is wet and your car is hit and slides forward, are the occupants more or less likely to be injured in the accident?

If you answered more, you would be correct. Remember, the more movement, the more injury you get. A wet road causes more movement, hence more injury. This principle is why it is better to be stopped with your foot on the brake than to be slowly moving when rear ended. When your foot is on the brake, the car moves forward less, and you get hurt less.

5. True or false, it is better to relax rather than brace for an accident?

False, this is a longstanding myth. It is always better to brace for an accident. When you tighten up your body with a slight bend in the elbows it limits movement which in turn limits injury.

6. Headrests were designed to prevent injury. What percentage of Americans set them to the proper height? 80% 50% 40% 20%

The majority of people set their headrests to do just that- rest their head. This increases injury because it acts like a ramp which your head moves up and over. Only 20% of headrests are set at the proper height in an upright position.

7. If you are the driver of a car that is hit in the drivers side, would you be hurt more of less than a rear end collision (excluding broken glass or possible crush injuries)?

Many people would be surprised to hear that side impact accidents tend to injure the spine less than a rear end collision. Movement front and back is far more likely to be damaging as we do not move as readily from side to side. The more movement the more injury.

8. How many accidents would you be in if you spent your entire life in a metropolitan area?

Accidents occur at a rate of 1.2 per second in the United States. That is more than 103,600 accidents per day. The likely hood of at least one in your lifetime regardless of where you live is very good. Your chances increase in frequency and severity if you live in a metropolitan area.

9. How long after an accident will symptoms show up?

Damage to your body can appear days, weeks, months, or even years after the accident. Headaches may not show up for days or even weeks; while osteoarthritis may not show up for years.

Many people tend to suffer long after symptoms appear mainly because they fail to get the proper care to repair torn muscles, and ligaments, and restore normal range of motion to the injured joints.

10. How many times the force of an actual rear-end collision is transferred to your body when driving and struck by an average mid sized car?

5 times, so in a 10 mph rear-end accident the transferred force may accelerate the body up to 50 mph.

Most people injure their spine, muscles, and ligaments in automobile accidents. Chiropractors are one of the most appropriate doctors to document, analyze, and correct problems resulting from accidents because they specialize in the treatment of musculo-skeletal injuries that occur as a result of trauma. The Journal of Orthopedic Medicine showed that 72% of patients with neck pain and restriction, but no neurological deficits responded very well to chiropractic care. Also in that study patients with neck pain, restricted movement and neurological symptoms, 94% responded positively to chiropractic treatment (Chiropractic Treatment of Chronic Whiplash Injuries; Journal of Orthopeadic Medicine, 1999 21(1);22-24)

Because the Accident Recovery Center specializes in the structure and mechanics of the body and we are familiar with working alongside other professionals we often contribute to greater settlements and greater patient satisfaction.

Call us at the Accident Recovery Center with any questions or concerns.

Yours for better health,

Dr. Ryan Giel

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