Last month, we discussed car safety features, proper headrest position, how to prepare for a crash, and to seek immediate treatment as ways to minimize the chances of suffering from whiplash in the event of an accident. Here are four more ways to avoid or minimize whiplash:
PAY ATTENTION WHILE YOU DRIVE. Too often, we get distracted while driving. Any time our eyes leave the road, the potential for an accident increases significantly. This can occur when changing the radio to a different station, eating while driving, reading while driving, talking on the phone, texting (equals the effects of 2-3 alcoholic beverages), driving under the influence of certain prescription medications (pain killers for example), driving under the influence of alcohol or other chemical agents, and turning your head during conversation. We have a responsibility when we are driving to keep our eyes on the road, as many accidents occur within split seconds of time. If we are not paying attention, we will not be able to avoid a potential collision.
THE CONCEPT OF “NO CRUSH, NO CRASH INJURY” IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. In fact, just the opposite is true. That is, the greater the amount of crushing metal at the time of collision, the greater the amount of energy absorption that occurs, resulting in less force transferred to the contents inside the vehicle (namely you or me). This is why, many times, people are injured in low speed collisions because there is no energy absorbed by crushing metal as noted by the absence of or, minimal damage to the car.
FOLLOWING YOUR DOCTOR’S ORDERS. It is very important that we do not inadvertently hurt or harm ourselves further by NOT following the advice of our health care practitioner. This means initially using ice to reduce inflammation and swelling, possibly wearing a soft cervical collar during the first few days after the injury to “rest” the injured structures, following proper nutritional advice for optimal healing benefits, and following exercise recommendations. This last treatment approach is vital in the prevention of long term, chronic neck complaints. Other ways you can REALLY help are to follow cervical traction orders.
Cervical traction is a very effective method of reducing muscle spasm, separating the joint spaces, improving disk nutrient transfer and water content, reduce the pinching effect of the nerves, and as a result, speeding up the recovery process. Follow your treatment schedule; that is, DON’T SKIP APPOINTMENTS! During office visits, it is necessary to discuss not only what is working well, but also what may not be working so modifications to your care plan can occur on a timely basis. The primary goal of whiplash management is to prevent the condition from becoming chronic and long-term, and the first few weeks of treatment are critical!
ERGONOMIC MODIFICATIONS. An important part of managing whiplash injuries is preventing daily irritations from tasks that we have to do. Hence, we will discuss adjusting your work station for optimum positioning and avoidance of poor posture, such as using office chairs with arm rests, sitting posture modifications, and computer monitor positioning. Proper sleep positions and pillow design are also reviewed.