PSA! One of our favorite topics is how chiropractic can help you heal after a car accident, and how proper car setup can help you avoid and minimize an injury in the future.
Did you know there are more car accidents in the summer? People are traveling more, with more distractions from noisy kids and more fatigue from long hours in the car. Unfortunately there is also more construction and with holidays and summer fun there are often more impaired drivers.
Car Accident Facts:
- An average of 3 million Americans are injured in an auto accident every year.
- Over 1 million with whiplash, 25% of those suffer with chronic pain and disability.
- Women are more likely to be injured because of their smaller neck size and strength.
- The most common injuries are from rear impacts.
- The most serious injuries occur with an added rotational force i.e. if your head was turned at the moment of impact or were struck at an angle.
- If your head isn’t within 2 inches of the headrest, you’re at a much greater risk of injury.
Healing from a Car Accident with Chiropractic
A common saying from patients with chronic neck pain, “It was just a little fender-bender.” You had a ‘minor’ crash and were sore for a couple of days, but didn’t think much of it. But a few months later, the real problems present themselves.
Even slow wrecks can be harmful in ways that aren’t taken into account by emergency rooms or urgent care centers, as they look primarily for life-threatening injuries. So be sure to get checked by someone who understands whiplash injuries.
Slow collisions often lead to injury because cars are designed to minimize the cost of replacing parts when involved in low speed collisions (less than 10mph). That means the force of two 4000lbs or greater vehicles striking each other is absorbed by YOU!
While you can have a wide range in the severity of your injuries, one thing is sure in every case; your body needs to heal. With any injury (shoulder, wrist, etc.), it’s important to get your spine checked to make sure your brain can fully communicate with the injured areas to allow maximal recovery.
Now if your spine becomes injured, it’s two-fold; not only does the spine need to recover but the downstream areas too. The areas of the body downstream (muscles, organs, etc.) of the injured spinal area will begin to weaken as well due to lack of proper nerve control through the injured area of the spine.
This is why so many car accident injuries become chronic and debilitating, they often involve the spine. Which then impairs the body’s natural ability to heal and function, limiting the body’s ability to recover.
Some of our patients have been in multiple accidents. This actually puts them at greater risk of injury in the future. Every time you’re hit, there’s an aspect of the injury which can become permanent. These injuries make your spine more unstable and more likely to be injured in future, even with relatively small falls or ‘minor accidents’.
We highly recommend that you be examined by a skilled chiropractor who knows what they are looking for after a car wreck (or other injury) to ensure your body can heal well.
Our Personal Experience with a Car Accident
When Dr. Darby was in chiropractic school, he was in a serious car wreck. It landed him in the hospital for a couple days to close a 4-inch laceration over his right eye.
Dr. Darby had some serious injuries, however his recovery was a testament to how chiropractic can aid the body’s natural healing ability. He was adjusted in the hospital by a local chiropractor right after his surgery. Then, once he returned to school, he began an intensive chiropractic care plan; involving multiple adjustments a week. Over the first several weeks his headaches, neck, upper back, and shoulder pain all subsided.
The medical doctors were stunned at just how quickly his injuries, including his skin graft, were healing; they even asked him to come in a couple extra times so they could photograph and document his rapid recovery.
We know that his body’s function and healing was optimized with chiropractic care!
Tips To Avoid Injury in a Car Accident
Check your tires! If your tire pressure isn’t correct, you won’t have the proper contact with the road and it can affect your braking.
How your car seat is positioned can CAUSE Injury, or SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE Injury, AND proper seat position will help your posture as you drive.
Here’s how you can set up your seat in an ergonomic way that will also prevent bracing injuries of the arms and legs, in the case of an accident.
- Press the base of your spine against the seat.
- Move the seat forward/back so that your knees are slightly bent with the brake pedal pressed all the way down.
- Lean your shoulders back against the seat.
- Elbows should be bent as you grip the steering wheel.
- The top of the headrest should be even with your head. Your head should be touching or within 1 inch of the headrest at all times.
Too often, neck injuries in car wrecks could have been minimized by proper posture and setup. When your seat set up is poor, it becomes a springboard and causes a greater whiplash injury rather than protecting you as it should. And remember: the farther forward your head is from the head rest, the greater whiplash will be so keep your head back.
Dr. Darby and Dr. Ashley Campbell are chiropractors in Centennial, Colorado. We love helping individuals and families live their best lives. We’re here to help you reach optimal health!
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