Monthly Archives: October 2011

Car Crashes Increase Your Risk of Chronic Pain

Many people walk away from auto collisions with only minor aches and pain that can resolve itself in a matter of weeks. Others are faced with life-changing conditions like chronic whiplash, brain injury or widespread chronic pain. The condition of widespread chronic pain, often a characteristic of fibromyalgia, is pain below and above the waist, and on both sides of the body that lasts longer than three months. While there are many cause of widespread chronic pain, new research suggests that traumatic events like auto collisions may significantly increase your risk of developing it.

A recent study from the UK asked 6, 209 people to fill out a questionnaire on their health and experience with pain. Four years later, 2, 069 of the original participants filled out another questionnaire updating their symptoms. 1 in 10 of the participants had developed widespread chronic pain since the original survey. 76% of those participants had experienced a traumatic incident like a car crash, surgery or broken bone. Whether someone had been in an auto accident actually predicted whether they had developed widespread chronic pain in many cases.

If you suffer from chronic pain or fibromyalgia after an auto collision, you don’t have to continue living a life of in the shadow of your accident. Chiropractors have been effectively treating fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions for years. Contact a chiropractor about receiving safe, effective treatment.

Jones GT, et al. “Road traffic accidents, but not other physically traumatic events, predict the onset of chronic widespread pain: Results from the EpiFunD Study” Arthritis Care and Research 2011.

More Young People in Emergency Room for Brain Injuries

The number of young people visiting the emergency room with sports and recreational-related brain injuries has skyrocketed by 60% in a matter of 8 years, according to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control. From 2001 to 2008, the number of traumatic-brain injury visits among young people increased from 153,375 to 248,418 nationwide.

The majority of those brain injuries occurred during football and bicycling for males and soccer, basketball, and biking for females. For children under the age of 9, brain injuries occurred most frequently while bicycling or on the playground.

Researchers were unclear whether the sharp increase was due to the fact that more injuries were occurring or that people were simply improving in responding the brain injuries more immediately. Either way, the numbers are troubling. Younger people have a longer recovery rate and a higher risk for the long-term effects of brain injuries says the report. Although sports and recreation offer a number of positive benefits for children, the increased risk for brain injuries could hamper those benefits significantly.

Families can take steps to prevent their children and teens from suffering from traumatic-brain injuries. Wearing helmets correctly, learning when to step out of a game at the first sign of a concussion, developing safe tackling and soccer-head butting techniques, and talking to coaches and doctors about prevention are all ways reduce the risk of traumatic-brain injuries.

“Nonfatal Traumatic Brain Injuries Related to Sports and Recreation Activities Among Persons Aged ≤19 Years — United States, 2001—2009”. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 7 October 2011.http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6039a1.htm?s_cid=mm6039a1_w. Accessed October 19, 2011.

Obesity Increases Fatality Risk in Auto Collisions

Scientists have added one more life-threatening factor to the list of risk factors related to obesity: auto accidents. Obese drivers are more likely to die in auto crashes according to a study from the State University of New York.

In this study, researchers analyzed data from 155,589 fatal auto accidents to determine which BMI levels put drivers at risk. They found that moderate to morbidly obese drivers with BMIs of 35 to less than 40 kg/m2 have a significantly higher risk of fatality. Interestingly, overweight and slightly obese drivers did not have an elevated risk of fatality but underweight drivers did. *

Researchers believe that one major factor boosting the risk of obese drivers may be their closeness to the steering wheel. Other than weight loss, researchers recommended that to decrease their risk, obese drivers should move their seats back to increase the space between the seat and the steering wheel. Some smaller car models may not allow much leeway though which is why researchers recommended that obese drivers consider purchasing a bigger car with more space between the seat and the wheel.

Another factor contributing to the increased risk in obese drivers may be the fact that obese people are more likely to have conditions like diabetes and cardiac disease that can complicate recovery from serious auto injuries.

If you or some one you love is obese, talk to your doctor about weight loss and other options that can reduce your risk of fatality in auto accidents.

*Overweight was defined as a BMI of 25 to less than 30 kg/m2, slightly obese was 30 to less than 35 kg/m2 and less than 18.5 kg/m2 was underweight. Researchers did note however that large muscle mass could make BMI less accurate and that waist circumference may be more accurate for future studies.

Jehle D, et al “Influence of obesity on mortality of drivers in severe motor vehicle crashes” Am J Emerg Med 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.ajem.2010.10.017.

 

Avoiding Teen Auto Accidents

Every year, millions of families suffer the loss of a child or teen in an auto collision. In fact, auto accidents are the leading cause of death among teens ages 15-20.This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 16-22). The week was established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2007 to raise awareness about the dangers of teen auto accidents.

A recent in-depth study of 38 families in North Carolina revealed more about the risk factors of teen driving. Amongst the participating families, teen drivers were 50% more likely to crash in the first month of having their licenses. When teens were partially responsible for an accident, the majority of the crashes involved three common mistakes: inattention, failure to yield, and failure to reduce speed.

Why are teen the most likely group of drivers to be in an auto crash? Several common causes include inexperience, distracted driving, drowsy and nighttime driving, lack of seat-belt use, and substance abuse combined with driving.

The danger of teen auto accidents is real. Talk to your teen about practicing safe-driving behaviors so that they can avoid becoming a statistic.

 

“Teen Drivers”. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. http://www.nhtsa.gov/Teen-Drivers. Accessed October 18, 2011.

“Teen Driver Safety”. AAA Foundation. http://www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/2011TeenSafeDriverWeekFS.pdf. Accessed October 18, 2011.

“Teen Driver Safety”. AAA Foundation. http://www.aaafoundation.org/projects/index.cfm?button=CompletedProjects#teens. Accessed October 18, 2011.

Signature Wounds of War: Brain Injuries

Brain injuries are now considered the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. An estimated 20% of combat soldiers have suffered at least one concussion, according to Pentagon data. Around half of those soldiers get better within a matter of hours. Many of them however develop longer-term brain injuries. These injuries come with problems like memory loss, mood swings, headaches, hearing problems, and light sensitivity. The symptoms of brain injuries can have a debilitating impact on veterans’ lives.

Scientists can call on a rich base of research on  brain injuries related to auto accidents, head wounds, and sports. But scientists are just now beginning to understand how exactly combat-related brain injuries work. What’s more, many veterans with brain injuries also suffer from other conditions like PTSD and depression. This can make it even more difficult to understand their specific brain injury.

As more veterans are returning home with brain injuries, the Department of Defense is attempting to develop effective rehabilitation methods. The Institute of Medicine recently released a report on veteran brain injuries, at the request of the Department of Defense. The report measured the efficacy of existing rehabilitation methods like daily diaries to address memory loss and other therapies intended to improve organizational skills and overall functioning. Yet the report says that there is still not enough scientific evidence to support the efficacy of these therapies.

Although more research is needed to fully understand combat-related brain injuries, doctors say that veterans undergoing rehabilitation therapies do show signs of improvement. If you are a veteran with a brain injury, consult with a doctor to discuss rehabilitation and treatment.

 

Alvarez, Lizette. “War Vetran’s Concussions Are Often Overlooked.” August 25, 2008. Accessed October 12, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/us/26tbi.html?pagewanted=1&ref=traumaticbraininjury.

Carey, Benedict. “Treatment of Trauma to Brain is Studied.” The New York Times. October 11, 2011. Accessed October 12, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/12/health/12brain.html

 

New Research Connects Post-traumatic Stress and Whiplash

After the traumatic experience of an auto accident, some people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). New research suggests your likelihood of having PTSD is higher if you have a neck disability from whiplash.

In a recent study, researchers evaluated 150 patients with whiplash to determine whether they had a neck disability and/or PTSD. Researchers used baseline predictors, or factors that predict the likelihood of having a neck disability or PTSD based on age, gender, initial pain, pressure pain thresholds, cold pain thresholds, and sympathetic vasoconstrictor responses. They discovered that the factors predicting neck disability were the same factors predicting PTSD. This suggests a close relationship between PTSD and the development of neck disability from whiplash.

Although not everyone with whiplash develops a neck disability or PTSD, it’s important to take steps to prevent your whiplash injury from worsening and to manage the potential psychological effects of an auto collision. Visit a chiropractor to assess your whiplash as soon as possible after your injury. This will help put you on the path to effective, safe recovery.

Sterling, M. Hendrikz J, Kenardy J. Similar factors predict disability and posttraumatic stress disorder trajectories after whiplash injury. Pain 2011 March 9.

Hidden Effects of Mild Brain Strokes

The effects of a mild stroke are more far-reaching than scientists previously thought. A recent study at the University of Montreal discovered that people that have had mild strokes suffer from a range of cognitive and emotional problems similar to their non-mild stroke counterparts. The similarities even led researchers to question the viability of the “mild” stroke category.

The wider ranges of symptoms include difficulty seeing and thinking, concentration problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, sleep disorders, and anxiety. Participants were worried about returning to work, driving, and caring for their families. They were also uncertain about their futures after the stroke.

Often patients who have mild strokes are only treated in emergency rooms or by family doctors. Researchers suggested that mild-stoke patients have a broader rehabilitation plan – one that includes neuropsychologist, occupational, and speech therapy to respond to cognitive and emotional changes. If you or a loved one has experienced a mild stroke, talk to a doctor about developing a well-rounded treatment plan.

Dallas, Mary Elizabeth. “Study: Mild Strokes may have hidden effects.” Health Day. USA Today. October 4, 2011.