Human beings � products of nature - were not created nor designed to absorb
certain types of impact, most noticeably that caused by automobile collisions.
The reason for this is physiological. The human head weighs roughly 10 - 15
pounds, and rests upon the most flexible and least reinforced part of the spine:
the neck. Your neck contains 32 joints (among other muscle and ligaments) and
is easily stretched and injured if too much force is applied in any direction.
When the joints of the neck are stretched or strained beyond their normal
limitations, they can lose their ability to return to their original length,
much like a pair of old socks with a elastic that stretches to the point where
it no longer can return to its original state.
Automobiles, on the other hand, are heavy, solid objects weighing roughly two
tons. These structures are designed to absorb impact and minimize energy
transfer, however the amount of force exerted when one automobile is struck by
another is equal to thousands of pounds � much of which is exerted upon the neck
and spine of the passengers. The neck cannot support or control the weight of
the head under such circumstances, and the head is forcefully thrust in the
direction of the vehicle causing the impact. The sudden movement of the head,
backwards, forwards or sideways, is referred to as whiplash. It is more
accurately called cervical acceleration/deceleration (CAD) trauma or syndrome,
which describes the rapid movements that can injure the vertebrae of the neck
and the muscles and ligaments that support them. As the muscles and other
tissues within the neck then stretch toward their physical limits, extreme
tension builds and the muscles �snap� (or �whip�) with a violent spasm in the
opposite direction. During this violent process, the soft discs between the
spinal bones can stretch or tear, and vertebrae can be forced out of their
normal position, reducing range of motion. The spinal cord and nerve roots in
the neck can get stretched and become irritated. The result is injury to the
muscles, ligaments, nerves (soft tissues) and the joints within the neck, which
will generally cause headaches, dizziness, pain in the shoulders, arms and hands,
reduced ability to turn and bend, and low back problems. Inasmuch as bruising
of the brain can also sometimes occur in auto accidents and similarly severe
causes of whiplash, some victims have experienced blurred vision, ringing in the
ears, nausea and numbness.