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Distinguishing between a TBI and whiplash after a car accident

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2022 | Car Accidents

Miles of highway surround San Francisco Bay. Accidents on these California roads come without warning. Car crashes involve heavy forces leading to damage of the head and neck. Whiplash is one of the most common injuries diagnosed after an accident. However, a traumatic brain injury may demonstrate similar symptoms.

What is whiplash?

The physics of car accidents do not favor your neck. If you are wearing your seatbelt, it will restrain your body from flying through the windshield during a crash. However, when your torso stays in place, your neck can snap backward in a rear-end collision. The sudden motion will tear soft tissue and strain muscles. You may also experience inflammation of your spinal cord.

Most whiplash symptoms are temporary and will dissipate with rest as muscles heal and swelling decreases. Common signs of whiplash include:

  • Headaches
  • Limited range of motion
  • Tingling in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Dizziness

What is a TBI?

A traumatic brain injury, commonly known as a concussion, is a more serious injury. Inside your skull, cerebrospinal fluid surrounds your brain. It provides protection from day-to-day injuries and separates the brain from direct contact with solid bone. In an automobile collision, your brain can violently bump into the skull. In serious cases, the resulting injuries may cause lifelong brain damage and even death.

The difference between a TBI and whiplash may not be apparent immediately after an accident. Both injuries can result in headaches, fatigue and dizziness. For a serious TBI, additional symptoms can develop:

  • Vomiting
  • Pupil dilation
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Speech problems

Your health is the primary concern

Head injuries may have permanent consequences. Even a minor accident can cause significant damage. Whether you think you have whiplash or a TBI, it is best to seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible.


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