APEX Brain Centers

How Whiplash Impacts Your Brain

How Whiplash Impacts Your Brain – Your brain can take a beating when your head gets shaken around during a whiplash injury. The effect of the head, which weighs as much as a medium-sized bowling ball, forcefully snapping your neck in various directions can cause a lot more than just neck pain and headaches. Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is often not the first concern when someone experiences a whiplash injury in a car crash, sports injury, or other traumatic accident. Some examples of brain-related problems after whiplash and mTBI include:

  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Attention, focus, and memory issues
  • Fear and emotional struggles
  • Blurred vision and more

Many of these potentially disabling whiplash symptoms can be directly related to the impact of your brain against the bony vault known as your skull, and the many sharp edges, shelves, and protrusions on its inner surface. Further, nerves that exit the brain (cranial nerves) can be tractioned, sheared, or even severed depending on the degree of whiplash. Some of these symptoms can also be related to injury to the muscles and joints in the neck that feed information that is vital to our sense of balance and equilibrium to the brain. When our equilibrium or sense of our external environment is altered, other brain systems begin to degrade as a result.

It is critically important to address the obvious physical aspects of pain, muscle spasm. And loss of motion due to whiplash through modalities such as chiropractic care and physical therapy. What is often neglecting and equally important to address is the other physical, cognitive. Emotional after-effects of mTBI due to whiplash. The following is a list of potential testing procedures. Assessments you should seek out in the event of a whiplash injury leading to any of the above-mentioned symptoms:

  1. Head to toe neurological evaluation
  2. Testing of eye movements with videonystagmography (VNG)
  3. Testing of balance with computerized dynamic posturography
  4. Cognitive testing
  5. Quantitative EEG (qEEG)
  6. Psychological evaluation

Remember that some symptoms may not develop until weeks after the accident. Pay special attention to the changes in your brain, or the brain of a loved one, after a whiplash accident. If you develop any symptoms that indicate mild traumatic brain injury, seek immediate attention from a functional neurologist. The quicker these brain-related whiplash symptoms are addressing, the quicker they will likely resolve. By the same token, based on the principles of neuroplasticity, the longer they are around, the more difficult they will be to resolve – How Whiplash Impacts Your Brain!

36 Comments

  1. Suns Stokel on July 6, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    I fell on my job 10/19/18 and had injury to my right knee, hand and neck. I had the most intense pin on my knee so other were dulled. I always had the neck pain and a heaviness at the back of my head. 5 months after I had unbalanced gait and lightheadedness. MRI showed partial intersection of the corpus Callosum. I have been diagnosed with post concussion syndrome. Could I be healed.

    • admin on July 7, 2019 at 3:43 pm

      Suns:

      While we cannot comment on your case specifically without comprehensive examination and testing; many do experience significant relief of the physical and cognitive symptoms related to post concussion syndrome with the intensive therapy programs we offer. Follow this link for some stories of those who have been helped – https://apexbraincenters.com/clients-speak/.

      Call us at 828.708.5274 for a free consultation to discuss options for you.

  2. Mark Z on April 27, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Dr Trayford,

    Mark Z again.

    I’ve got an update for ya: I’m doing MUCH better and feel like I can do a whole lot more than before. I’m not embarrassed by my previous difficulties. The truth is what it is. I just don’t tell people because so many of them look at me like I’m crazy. I’m writing a book about my life, and it WILL include this chapter of my life.

    I wonder about something though. As whatever it is inside my head realigns (which is how I’ve recovered to this point), as I’ve called it for perhaps the past year, it makes a sound. I remember being with a friend and had a MAJOR realignment. He said that the sound was like fingernails on a chalkboard.

    Without me being in your office for you to officially check things out and make a diagnosis, what does it sound like that could have made those sounds? How badly would I have had to be hurt for something like those sounds to be what leads to “realignment” which leads to recovered functioning and comfort?

    The more I heal from this period of my life, the more I feel like the world is my oyster! Also, thank you SO much for helping me with all this… I look forward to meeting with you once I’m down in SC.

    PS I recall having a somewhat difficult time figuring out what to say the last time I visited your website here. The healing I’ve done since February has allowed me to be even more precise. Quite necessary when you’re writing a book, wouldn’t you say?

    Here’s my previous post in case you need to review what was already mentioned by both of us:

    https://apexbraincenters.com/how-whiplash-impacts-brain/

    • admin on April 28, 2019 at 4:25 pm

      Mark:

      So happy to hear of your positive gains – this is great!

      I’m unable to formulate any reasonable comment on the inquiry about the realignment noises in the absence of extended history and evaluation.

      Look forward to seeing you when you are in SC.

      Take care!

  3. Leatha dickerson on March 23, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    So happy to see this site. My some has been suffering terrible since November 2016 from a really rough roller coaster ride. He has been to nuerologists, ER, family Dr, ENTs, balance Dr, eye Drs, chiropractors for alignment and accupuncture, and PTs. He is now seeing a nuerologist and PT for the knots in his back and neck and the overall muscle weakness in his legs and core.
    His main concerns at this point are the brain fogginess, blurred vision and just the head issues.
    PLEASE any help you can offer or direct us would be so greatly appreciated as we are in Virginia and distance travel really increases his symptoms. Is there anyone in the Richmond Virginia area that you can direct us to.
    Thanks so very much, from a very concerned mother.

    • admin on March 24, 2019 at 11:55 pm

      Leatha:

      So sorry to hear of your son’s struggles.

      This is something we see every day in practice and our intensive programs are geared towards rehabilitating all he is dealing with.

      Best to call the office at 828.708.5274 for free consultation with Dr. Trayford. We understand the travel concerns; although we don’t have anyone up that way we can refer you to. We get many coming from that area in particular for that reason. We can discuss ways that it may be easier to travel so that you could get him here for comprehensive evaluations and treatment.

      We look forward to hearing from you.

  4. Mark Z on February 23, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Does the Corpus Callosum in the brain get damaged during extreme whiplash and if so, what are the symptoms, or what can the symptoms be seeing as they might vary?

    In the center of the brain, are there parts other than the Corpus Callosum that can get damaged and quite badly effect brain functioning such as making me have some strange compulsion to touch a red hot stove (I have a very LOW threshold for pain, so this is a WEIRD symptom) or thoughts being almost impossible to control, which was just as weird of an experience as the stove example…

    Early on in this experience of mine, about ten years ago, I recall that hot steam showers helped me feel better from the symptoms. So did playing Beethoven’s soothing music (Beethoven’s Adagios, you can find it on Amazon) at a certain volume all night long on my big Bose speakers.

    Last thing is that it took me years after the injury to have enough command of the English language to say that physically, I felt (and quite often HEARD) something in my head realigning. What part of the center region of my brain can make snapping sounds? Some hollow, some shallow.

    Thank you for your time and if I need to be referred elsewhere or pointed to this or that other source, I’m game!!

    Thank you,

    Mark

    • admin on February 24, 2019 at 3:36 pm

      Mark:

      The short answer is yes – there is plenty of evidence supporting corpus callosum damage with whiplash injuries. Any midline structures (spinal cord, brainstem, corpus callosum, etc.) are particularly susceptible to injury with (axial) traction, and rotational forces experienced with these types of injuries.

      As far as the symptoms you speak of, we see (with over 20 years of experience in this area) that anything is fair game when it comes to cognitive impairment after these types of injuries; although conventional science/medicine is reluctant to equate the two. Fact is, when you have injury to nerve pathways that carry information to and from virtually all parts of the brain, particularly the frontal brain, there will be consequences.

      With regard to frontal brain, impairments in attention, focus, decision making, impulse control, self-regulation, etc. are quite common in our patient population; and could very well be related to what you speak of.

      Please call us at 828.708.5274 for a free brief consultation to discuss further if you wish.

      Take care!

  5. Michael Garcia on November 5, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    I was rear ended about two and a half years ago. I was the passenger in the car. We were at a complete stop. I am a construction electrician and I was unemployed at the time. About 3 days later I went back to work. Everything seemed fine but approximately two weeks later after work my head started shaking in what turned out to be called a no no motion and my eyes would blink uncontrollably and sometimes close shut where I couldn’t open them. I have seen four different neurologists and the general consensus is eye blephorasm and head dystonia caused by anxiety triggered by trauma from the car accident. I still get these tremors anytime that I do anything that causes me to have my head bent back. Like working an a ceiling or putting a TV stand together on the floor or putting in a receptacle th as t is down low on the wall. I recently helped a friend move which included carrying heavy items out of the basement etc. Now my tremors two weeks and two days later are occurring more frequently. I hard time believing that these tremors are a due to anxiety. Especially since they only seem to occur after having done work that included me having to bend my head back. Can you please help me?

    • admin on November 7, 2018 at 9:55 pm

      Michael:

      Sorry to hear of your struggles. The fact that you have eye and neck issues indicates the connections between eye movement, vestibular/balance, and postural muscle systems is not working correctly. Certainly a lot to consider here – so best to call us at 828.708.5274 to discuss further over free 10 minute consultation to see what options best for you.

      Take care.

  6. Larah Gable on September 5, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Hi there, Is it likely that there can be long term brain trauma effects from a major whip lash ? I was driving in the winter time on a newly paved road with snow, going about 45 Mph, when my breaks went out. My vehicle flew across the intersection about the same speed causing me to hit a tree an totaling my car. I had severe chest contusion from my chest hitting the steering wheel and neck pain. My glasses that were secure on me flew to the back of the seat. I have had chronic neck pain, vestibular weakness, reoccurring vertigo and sleep issues. This has been a consistent problem since the accident 18 yrs ago. I am just trying to understand more. I had MRI, ENG test previously.

    Thank you,
    Larah

    • admin on September 5, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      The short answer is, absolutely. Whiplash, in many cases, can be more troublesome in the long run than direct hits to the head given traction and shearing forces sustained by the brainstem and connections between the hemispheres. The brainstem houses centers for balance, eye movements, autonomic functions and more that can be impaired long-term without appropriate correction. The only way to tell for sure what the problems are, what areas affected, and what can be done is with functional testing of brain and body systems. Our Day of Discovery is the ideal assessment battery for anyone looking at the long term effects of whiplash, brain injury, concussion, etc. Feel free to take a survey here to learn more and/or call us to set up a free consultation – https://apexbraincenters.com/brain-injury/ – 828.708.5274. Take care!

  7. Laura Snyder on August 21, 2018 at 2:03 am

    So, my question is very different than the previous ones. I’m 49 and I’ve struggled with my short term memory for a really long time. I absorb general information and seem to be able to apply this when needed, but I simply can’t seem to retain details. My family and friends tease me because I’m an intelligent person and the information and formulations that happen in my head are clear and concise, but when I try to verbalize or write out my thoughts they simply won’t transfer. Also I have a pretty broad vocabulary but constantly struggle to recall familiar, and even simple, words during conversations.
    Anyway, I’ve always thought it was just me, and that there’s nothing I could do about it, but recently I was in a conversation and brain injuries caused by head trauma and whip lash came up and some symptoms mentioned were similar to mine, Well… I had two falls in my twenties that included some head trauma and whiplash, and I’m just wondering…

    • admin on August 24, 2018 at 8:32 pm

      Laura:

      The types of memory we favor and access to memories does certainly change over time; although at a young 49 years of age, we wouldn’t expect too much difficulty in the areas you describe.

      There are so many factors related to memory struggles (i.e. head injuries, genetics, lifestyle, metabolic factors like blood sugar, etc.) that only a comprehensive history/evaluation/testing could begin to determine where your struggles might be originating; and, more importantly, what can be done to help.

      Please call us at 828.708.5274 to schedule a free consultation to discuss further.

      Take care!

  8. Geoff Criss on August 7, 2018 at 4:23 am

    In 2012, I jumped out of bed fast and my neck suffered a whiplash and I felt a burn in my neck. Immediately I got severe bed spins which lasted for about 20 mins. Since that point I’ve had memory issues, dizziness, nausea, swallowing issues and developed cataracts. I’ve been to an ENT, chiropractor, Neurologist, Opthamologist. Ive had a few MRI’S. It was discovered I had a medullary stroke when I jumped out of bed. Right now, I get dizzy from eye movement and nobody can seem to figure out why. Any suggestions?

    • admin on August 24, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      Geoff:

      Sorry to hear of your struggles. As you’ve learned, the lower part of your brainstem controls quite a lot!

      The connections between eye movements, vestibular/balance functions, postural muscles and more are quite well understood. The hard part is finding doctors that understand these connections and not address symptoms and systems independently.

      This is exactly what we do, evaluate and treat the interplay between these various systems that is vital for having a less stressed experience of life with less (or hopefully none) of the symptoms you describe.

      Would be best for you to call us at 828.708.5274 to schedule a free consultation to discuss further as this is our area of expertise.

      Take care!

  9. Ruthann on April 18, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I was rear-ended by a semi going 60+ mph while a passenger in a stopped car. I was having severe whiplash problems. Then 10 months & half months later & had a multiple vessel brain bleed & life lined to a neuro center for emergency brain surgery. The neurosurgeon could not find any reason for the brain bleed. I still believe the severe whip-lash weekends my vessels & set me up for another brain trauma. I continue to have back & neck issues. But now have uncontrolled seizures so often I have to give up treatments to not be under triggers for seizures. Just wondering about the connection since the severity of whiplash.

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on April 20, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Ruthann:

      Sorry to hear of your struggles – you have been through a lot over the past year.

      There can certainly be a connection between the brain bleed and whiplash injury. It has been well established that nerve cells and pathways sustain shearing forces as a result of this type of trauma, and the same hold true for the small vessels in the brain.

      Please call us for free consultation at 828.708.5274 if you’d like to discuss further.

      Take care!

  10. Ruthann on April 18, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I was rear-ended by a semi going 60+ mph while a passenger in a stopped car. I was having severe whiplash problems. Then 10 months & half months later & had a multiple vessel brain bleed & life lined to a neuro center for emergency brain surgery. The neurosurgeon could not find any reason for the brain bleed. I still believe the severe whip-lash weekends my vessels & set me up for another brain trauma. I continue to have back & neck issues. But now have uncontrolled seizures so often I have to give up treatments to not be under triggers for seizures. Just wondering about the connection since the severity of whiplash.

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on April 20, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Ruthann:

      Sorry to hear of your struggles – you have been through a lot over the past year.

      There can certainly be a connection between the brain bleed and whiplash injury. It has been well established that nerve cells and pathways sustain shearing forces as a result of this type of trauma, and the same hold true for the small vessels in the brain.

      Please call us for free consultation at 828.708.5274 if you’d like to discuss further.

      Take care!

  11. Kimberly on February 4, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I was rear ended while at a complete stop by someone going 35-40 mph about a month and half ago. Since then I am having problems remembering things within 10-15 minutes. Leaving without something I normally carry with me. Forgetting to do something at work, turned into a clutz, drop things etc. some coordination issues. I did not seek medical attention immediately after accident because I already have neck problems. Was not really sore after. I have a fast paced, tons of things to remember, always something different going on type of career. Could I have received a brain injury from the accident?

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on February 5, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Kimberly:

      It is well established that whiplash injuries, particularly those sustained in motor vehicle accidents like you describe, are a cause of concussion and post-concussion syndrome. Memory and recall issues are a very common complication in these types of injuries.

      Given your career and need for reliable cognitive processes, it would be advisable to call us for a free consult to discuss some options with you. We have a unique program perfect for those with busy lifestyles where we get folks in for 5-10 days and provide various therapies in an intensive manner (often 3-5 hours per day) for the largest gains in the shortest period of time.

      Our # is 828.708.5274 – we look forward to talking with you.

      In the meantime, this webinar can provide further insight – https://youtu.be/Fn4GozVhEEs

  12. Kimberly on February 4, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I was rear ended while at a complete stop by someone going 35-40 mph about a month and half ago. Since then I am having problems remembering things within 10-15 minutes. Leaving without something I normally carry with me. Forgetting to do something at work, turned into a clutz, drop things etc. some coordination issues. I did not seek medical attention immediately after accident because I already have neck problems. Was not really sore after. I have a fast paced, tons of things to remember, always something different going on type of career. Could I have received a brain injury from the accident?

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on February 5, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Kimberly:

      It is well established that whiplash injuries, particularly those sustained in motor vehicle accidents like you describe, are a cause of concussion and post-concussion syndrome. Memory and recall issues are a very common complication in these types of injuries.

      Given your career and need for reliable cognitive processes, it would be advisable to call us for a free consult to discuss some options with you. We have a unique program perfect for those with busy lifestyles where we get folks in for 5-10 days and provide various therapies in an intensive manner (often 3-5 hours per day) for the largest gains in the shortest period of time.

      Our # is 828.708.5274 – we look forward to talking with you.

      In the meantime, this webinar can provide further insight – https://youtu.be/Fn4GozVhEEs

  13. Anita on July 8, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    My husband was in his work vehicle at a stop sign when he was rearended and pushed by at least 10 feet into the intersection. His work sent him to a clinic to be checked out and he said he felt fine, he had no complaints but was told that having your head snap back from being rearended can be dangerous. Ten months later he suffered a brain stemstroke that took his life. The hospital could not find out where the blood clot came from, desperate for answers, recently it made me wonder if his stroke could be related to that accident? Would a blood clot take that long to travel to the brain stem?
    Thank you for your help.
    Anita

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on July 12, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Anita:

      While there certainly could have been damage to blood vessels from the whiplash injury that could have caused clots to form or compromise blood flow to certain parts of the brain, it is quite difficult to draw any connection between the accident and a stroke 10 months later – even with extended history. There are many factors of one’s health that could lead to these types of problems, including cardiovascular health, blood sugar handling, lifestyle habits, etc.

      We are largely concerned with an individual’s functional abilities and what we can do to help them past events such as stroke and the like to obtain a higher quality of life.

      Please call us at 828.708.5274 if you would like to discuss further.

      Take care and best to your husband!

  14. Anita on July 8, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    My husband was in his work vehicle at a stop sign when he was rearended and pushed by at least 10 feet into the intersection. His work sent him to a clinic to be checked out and he said he felt fine, he had no complaints but was told that having your head snap back from being rearended can be dangerous. Ten months later he suffered a brain stemstroke that took his life. The hospital could not find out where the blood clot came from, desperate for answers, recently it made me wonder if his stroke could be related to that accident? Would a blood clot take that long to travel to the brain stem?
    Thank you for your help.
    Anita

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on July 12, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Anita:

      While there certainly could have been damage to blood vessels from the whiplash injury that could have caused clots to form or compromise blood flow to certain parts of the brain, it is quite difficult to draw any connection between the accident and a stroke 10 months later – even with extended history. There are many factors of one’s health that could lead to these types of problems, including cardiovascular health, blood sugar handling, lifestyle habits, etc.

      We are largely concerned with an individual’s functional abilities and what we can do to help them past events such as stroke and the like to obtain a higher quality of life.

      Please call us at 828.708.5274 if you would like to discuss further.

      Take care and best to your husband!

  15. Kathleen on May 10, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    In 2009 I was in an accident where I crashed in a wooden fence and was seen but not really treated for whip lash then in 2012 I was hit my a car and was flinged forward no physical damage but since I felt fine I mean alittle sore didn’t see a doctor and was in two rear end accidents since I was hit by a car and I’ve been having a hard time sleeping and there are days when I’m dizzy all day and days where I have fallen down stairs because I was dizzy or felt really weak, should I be worried?

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on May 21, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Kathleen:

      This is certainly something you should have looked at by a qualified functional neurologist given the persistent symptoms. Falling as a result of dizziness and lack of sleep is definitely reason for concern.

      Please call us at 828.708.5274 for free consultation to discuss some options for you.

      Hope to hear from you soon.

  16. Kathleen on May 10, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    In 2009 I was in an accident where I crashed in a wooden fence and was seen but not really treated for whip lash then in 2012 I was hit my a car and was flinged forward no physical damage but since I felt fine I mean alittle sore didn’t see a doctor and was in two rear end accidents since I was hit by a car and I’ve been having a hard time sleeping and there are days when I’m dizzy all day and days where I have fallen down stairs because I was dizzy or felt really weak, should I be worried?

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on May 21, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Kathleen:

      This is certainly something you should have looked at by a qualified functional neurologist given the persistent symptoms. Falling as a result of dizziness and lack of sleep is definitely reason for concern.

      Please call us at 828.708.5274 for free consultation to discuss some options for you.

      Hope to hear from you soon.

  17. Tracey on March 28, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    I rear ended a truck February 2014. I was going at least 40 mph with no time for breaks and i have had trouble with things i never had problems with before that accident. I have totally lost my organization skills, my memory is horrible, i can’t keep up with important papers, etc as i could before. I get frustrated because i feel my brain is mush most days. I have more trouble staying on task and get overwhelmed very quickly. I’m a single mom of 2 young boys and a daughter, now married with a 1 yr old. I can’t focus on anything as i could before. I did have a near fatal car accident back in April 1993 that left me undergoing physical therapy to learn to walk again. I was 18. Even cleaning some days is a challenge for me and i get frustrated easily at the thought of it all and feel my thoughts racing. I never got checked by a dr after this accident in 2014 because i don’t have insurance and couldn’t afford tests or xrays. The older i get i notice it getting worse and i aggravates me highly but not sure what to do.

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on April 5, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Tracey:

      So sorry to hear of your struggles. Folks can suffer for a long time with the after effects of head injuries. On the other hand, there is much that can be done about them. See this video for an example – https://youtu.be/kGWDaDo6vVs.

      Please call our office for a free consultation to discuss some options for you. 828-708-5274.

      Take care.

  18. Tracey on March 28, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    I rear ended a truck February 2014. I was going at least 40 mph with no time for breaks and i have had trouble with things i never had problems with before that accident. I have totally lost my organization skills, my memory is horrible, i can’t keep up with important papers, etc as i could before. I get frustrated because i feel my brain is mush most days. I have more trouble staying on task and get overwhelmed very quickly. I’m a single mom of 2 young boys and a daughter, now married with a 1 yr old. I can’t focus on anything as i could before. I did have a near fatal car accident back in April 1993 that left me undergoing physical therapy to learn to walk again. I was 18. Even cleaning some days is a challenge for me and i get frustrated easily at the thought of it all and feel my thoughts racing. I never got checked by a dr after this accident in 2014 because i don’t have insurance and couldn’t afford tests or xrays. The older i get i notice it getting worse and i aggravates me highly but not sure what to do.

    • Dr. Michael Trayford on April 5, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Tracey:

      So sorry to hear of your struggles. Folks can suffer for a long time with the after effects of head injuries. On the other hand, there is much that can be done about them. See this video for an example – https://youtu.be/kGWDaDo6vVs.

      Please call our office for a free consultation to discuss some options for you. 828-708-5274.

      Take care.

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