Living With Whiplash

sleepWhen my partner was injured in a car accident two years ago, we had no idea how dramatically this would affect our lives. The initial crash, though unpleasant- another motorist drove into us- left minimal damage. There was only a slight crumple in the back of the car and we walked away scot free.

Or so we thought. Within a few days of the accident, Robbie complained of back pains and dizziness. He found it extremely difficult to turn his head. Sitting with a straight back in front of a computer monitor seemed all but impossible- tricky when you’re working in an office!

Far from walking away unharmed, Robbie was suffering from one of the most commonly reported car crash injuries, better known as whiplash. Our journey didn’t end there.

What is whiplash?
Thanks to our experiences, Robbie and I went from only a nodding acquaintance with whiplash to knowing all about it. As its NHS page explains, it’s a term to describe a particular type of neck injury, caused when the head is suddenly thrown forward or sideways. After the original accident, it can take up to 12 hours develop- hence why Robbie seemed fine to begin with. The most frequent cause is a traffic accident but it’s sometimes caused by over strenuous exercise or a sports injury.

Though often dismissed as a ‘minor’ condition, we were soon to learn it was anything but. Robbie’s was clearly a serious case: as well as the stiffness and headaches associated with whiplash, he suffered from blurred vision, a constant feeling of tiredness and vertigo. He likes designing computer graphics as a hobby, but found he just couldn’t focus anymore. In the months following the accident he had to sign off sick; he stopped receiving statutory sick pay after 28 weeks. To say his employers weren’t sympathetic is an understatement! Eventually he handed in his notice rather than endure their hostility.

Long term effects

mind-controlDespite its reputation, whiplash can have detrimental effects on your long term physical and emotional health. Robbie went from being an active person who loved playing football and squash to the least movement causing pain. He was prescribed codeine by his GP; though this helped stem the pain, it meant he no longer thought as lucidly.

One form of treatment that helped in small doses was a TENS machine. The electrical impulses generated by the machine block the pain messages sent to the brain; Robbie was able to get an extremely effective pain relief unit from Boots. Indeed, I’d thoroughly recommend their pain relief products- they’re reasonably priced and easy for a layman to use.

A friend who had been in a similar situation had a handy tip. When she’d sprained her neck trampolining, she’d gone to KTB Pilates, a pilates and physiotherapy company. Used in line with her medical treatment, it was great for alleviating the pain and reducing the stiffness that made her life so difficult.

Although these techniques were helpful, Robbie had been permanently changed by his accident. Previously he’d been happy go lucky and bursting with energy; now he suffered from irritability and constant low moods. Depression is a less explored effect of whiplash; in this instance, the inability to work, reduced physical activity and dependency really upset him. He was convinced that because he wasn’t working he was a ‘sponge’, resulting in a horrible atmosphere at home.

What happens now?

When it became clear that Robbie couldn’t go back to work, we wondered how we were going to manage. He became very angry and bitter, saying we were being punished for something that was no fault of ours. This got me thinking. While it wasn’t possible to press charges against the driver of the other car- we’d never taken down his details- were we entitled to compensation for our ordeal?

After careful research, we came across, who offered legal advice on a no win, no fee basis. After our first meeting, we were convinced. They were fully versed in this kind of case, so they gave us peerless advice; after all the pain and aggravation Robbie had suffered, we had every right to take it further. You can imagine how thrilled we were when we won! Thanks,!