How can four people in the same car accident have different symptoms?

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If you have ever been in a car accident, it can be quite traumatic both physically and emotionally as well. Understanding the forces involved can explain why you feel a certain way. For example, a front-head collision with another vehicle may discharge airbags subjecting you to further forces as the bags discharge with significant forces against your body to protect you from injury. The crumple zones of the car are also designed to help you avoid injury by absorbing much of the impact before it is felt by the car passengers. Side impacts depending on whether they are by the front, mid-section, or rear can place rotational forces that may not discharge airbags but impact how you feel. A lighter impact can sometimes impart more force to the passengers in the vehicle because the passengers absorb more of the force than the vehicle does in some cases. Newton's Law of Conservation of linear momentum explains how passengers receive force from the other vehicle to their bodies.  Newton Cradle demonstrates how the forces are transferred in this popular example. According to Wikipedia, Newton's cradle demonstrates the conservation of momentum and the conservation of energy with swinging spheres. If you apply this concept to people in a vehicle that is rear-ended, after the car crumples, the force is sent to the occupants using the same concept. The model also explains why people who are in a vehicle that has a small impact may still be experiencing pain since the force needs to go somewhere. While this is a straightforward concept, in real life, it is common for multiple people who were in the same car accident to have different symptoms.

How is it possible for multiple people in the same accident to have different symptoms?

When people are exposed to the same forces from a rear-end collision, they should theoretically have similar injuries. In reality, different people may experience different problems and injuries after the accident.  This is because they had a history prior to the accident. Passengers may have had back problems prior to the injury that was either symptomatic or asymptomatic, and the impact worsened their existing problems.   Others may have stiffened up anticipating the impact, while others may have been looking down, reading, or perhaps had their head turned one way or another.

The proper way to evaluate someone in an accident includes the following;

  • A history of the accident and how it occurred.
  • Their prior history of problems in the back, neck, and even their arms, wrists, and legs.
  • Did they impact anything in the vehicle or were they impacted by the airbags?

What you should do at the time of the accident

  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver.
  • Take photos with your cellphone.
  • Call a police officer to get an accident report written.
  • Notify your insurer.

Go to the ER by ambulance, yes or no.

Depends on the injuries, the extent of the accident, and if you require immediate medical attention. If you have signs of a concussion and have hit your head, going to the ER is a good idea to be evaluated.  In many other situations, people are able to drive away and can seek medical care later on.

Still in pain after a few days, it's time to visit your local chiropractor first.

Who you visit first can determine the time, cost, and effectiveness of your care. Many people visit their chiropractor as the holistic approach to care often results in faster recovery and fewer residual symptoms. Choosing the right chiropractor hastens recovery, and reduces unnecessary interventions and diagnostic testing. People will choose their chiropractor based on previous use, or the recommendation of a friend or family member or they will do their own research through the internet and check the reviews online for the doctor they are considering.

What to expect on your first chiropractic visit after an accident.

  1. A thorough history
  2. X-rays in many cases since there was trauma involved.
  3. Treatment on the first visit is common if there are no contraindications from the evaluation.
  4. Foot orthotics may be recommended if they can help improve gait and balance the pelvis.
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