What Are The Physics Behind A Whiplash Injury?What Are The Physics Behind A Whiplash Injury?

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Unlike a broken leg or a head injury, whiplash is a soft tissue injury, and as such it is not as visible or obvious to onlookers and even patients. Yet the pain is very real.

It is a very common injury to sustain in a very common kind of accident; a road traffic accident. Yet despite its reputation as one of the most prevalent kind of car accident claim, there remains some uncertainty as to how this injury is acquired.

So, how exactly do you get whiplash? For a very, let’s say, ambiguous condition, there is a very logical and scientific answer to that question. We are not going to blind you with science here but if you understand some of the fundamental laws of physics you will see more clearly how whiplash is a pretty straightforward injury to sustain.

It is first of all worth remembering that whiplash is usually acquired in a certain type of road accident, a rear end car collision. Further more, it often happens when the car that is collided into is stationary and the one behind it is travelling at medium to low speed.

Of course, all car accidents are different. Have a look at the typical, below scenario and to see how the laws of physics come into play in a whiplash injury:

  1. Car A has stopped at a red light on a main road
  2. Car B approaches from behind and fails to stop in time for the light, it is travelling at around 15 mph
  3. Because your car is not moving the impact is lessened but there is force still applied as the other car is moving
  4. The impact causes the seats inside the car to move forward suddenly
  5. At the same time, the torso on the seats moves forward at the same speed
  6. The heads and necks of the passengers/driver do not move at the same time as the seats, causing a whiplash action
  7. The headrests of a car are designed to help lessen this kind of impact. Note that you should always make sure your headrest is adjusted accordingly. The height of the heads restraint should be the same height as your head and place it as closely to your head as you can while seated

The Science Bit

Driver Suffering From Whiplash After Traffic CollisionOf course, there are physics involved with every kind of movement and action, so if you really want to get a more technical perspective on rear end collisions then it might be worth considering Newton’s laws of motion to get a clear picture.

Newton, first name Isaac, is considered to be one of the most established English physicists and mathematicians who helped develop the face of modern physics. His rules of motion comprise of three separate laws which were used by the famed scientist to explain the motion of physical objects, more specifically, they describe what happens when an object has a force acting upon it.

The first law is that when a body or an object is in motion, it will usually stay in motion. The second law is that if an object is still it usually stays still. The third law states that these two principles will remain them unless there is an outside force which acts upon them.

Therefore, in a car accident, particularly a rear end collision, when a body is stationary in a vehicle, it moves on impact but the head and neck, which are unrestrained, stay in place. Eventually the head does move and become hyper extended; this is when the muscles and ligaments in and around the neck become damaged. The body recoils and brings everything forward as far as it can, in effect, it snaps back and forth.

You don’t need to be a scientist to know if you or a co-passenger has suffered whiplash, it is usually quite obvious with the symptoms. These symptoms are neck pain and stiffness; headaches; reduced ability to move the neck and a tenderness of the neck muscles. You may not feel any pain immediately with many of these symptoms appearing several days after an accident, it is common for the stiffness in the neck to be more painful the day after also.

In all suspected whiplash injury cases, it is recommended that you visit your GP who will be able to confirm you injuries.

First Personal Injury Help with Road Traffic Accident Claims

Our accident claims and personal injury solicitors may be able to help with your road traffic accident compensation claim. If you’ve been in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Our Personal Injury Solicitors are professional and ready to take on your potential road traffic accident claim and willing to help and advice on issues as a result of your road traffic accident. You can contact First Personal Injury on 0800 808 9740 or through filling out the online claim form.

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