Where Compassion Meets Experience

Is it a TBI or whiplash?

Two common injuries after an auto accident in California are whiplash and traumatic brain injury. A driver or passenger in a crash might experience one or the other or both, and both injuries have overlapping symptoms. While the two conditions need attention, they differ, and it may be hard to distinguish them.

Overview of whiplash and TBI

Whiplash occurs in car accidents when the neck is harshly jerked back and forth, overextending the muscles. It commonly causes neck pain, loss of range of motion, nerve damage, pain in the arms or shoulders, and headaches. However, adrenaline may disguise the symptoms for several hours or even several days after the accident.

A TBI occurs from a blunt force jolt or hit to the head, which disrupts normal brain functions. An example of a mild TBI is a concussion, which commonly causes headaches, dizziness, vision issues, nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity. A mild to moderate TBI may heal in days or weeks, but even mild TBIs, including concussions, can have long-lasting symptoms.

Similarities and differences

In many cases, a whiplash injury will heal itself with proper treatment in a few weeks unless spinal damage is present. A TBI is more likely to have lasting cognitive symptoms, such as mood swings, trouble focusing, sleeping issues and confusion. The chance of losing consciousness for several minutes or hours is more likely but not always present in mild TBIs.

While whiplash is more likely at lower speeds, the two injuries may happen together if the force is severe enough. Whiplash and TBIs may both cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety and confusion, and both are commonly caused by falls and vehicle accidents.

The only way to find the exact condition is through various tests, such as CT scans, X-rays and MRIs. A driver or passenger may seek compensation for their injuries, but they only have two years to file a case.