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When I talk to people about car crashes, I commonly hear how it was “just a fender bender”. Their neck was sore, but they weren’t REALLY hurt. Or were they. If a driver of a car was hit from behind, and the car was traveling at a speed less than 10 mph, it is easy to say that there is no way that that driver got injured. However, when you start asking questions like: Did the driver have their head turned? Have they ever had neck injuries before, was the vehicle that hit them, larger than theirs, etc., the amount of speed requirement for injury, goes way down. In fact, if the drivers head was turned more than 15 degrees, a 5 mph crash can have significant consequences.
When it comes to whiplash and other auto related injuries, if you consider all the factors involved, speed almost becomes a moot point. Females are 2 times more likely to be injured than men, and that risk goes up the smaller framed that you are. A neck that has previously suffered from a neck injury also has a significantly greater chance of making the previous injury look like a birthday party.
Age is another factor that has more of an effect on the spine than possibly any other. If you were to take a frail older lady and put them in the same vehicle as a young girl, it’s almost a guarantee that the older lady will be injured more so than the young girl. The condition of the spine and the ligaments that hold it all together, plays one of the biggest roles in the protection of the spine.
Just remember that the next time that you are involved in a “Fender Bender”, if there are other risk factors like the ones that I have mentioned already, your chance of injury has greatly increased. Don’t become a statistic and suffer from chronic pain. In Utah, we have a wonderful policy called Personal Injury Protection or P.I.P. built into every car insurance policy that you can not opt out of. The purpose of P.I.P. is to provide medical coverage in the event that you are injured. At the very least get checked out, to make sure that you really are “fine”.
The next time that you hear of anyone involved in a crash, no matter how big or small, the damage may be more impactful, and potentially permanent than they may realize.