By a sudden and powerful movement in which the head is moved to and fro, not only injuries to the neck and spine can occur. The brain also has a strong impact because it is pressed against the inner side of the skull (coup-contacoup injury).
It is known that 56% of whiplash victims recover within 3 months after the accident and 82% recover after 2 years. However, around 20% continue to experience serious complaints. Older people and people with osteoarthritis of the neck or existing sensitivity to headaches will generally recover less quickly.
It is not illogical that the severity of the impact influences the possibilities for recovery. If there is a rotated flexion, an impact where the head is catapulted in different directions, the damage is usually greater.
In addition to injuries to the muscles, the nerves in the neck can be damaged.
The Occipitalis nerve is an important nerve that often suffers damage from a whiplash incident. This nerve exerts an influence on the autonomic nervous system and interferes with pain pathways in the spinal cord. Injuries can lead to symptoms that resemble fibromyalgia. Because the proprioceptive information processing is disrupted from the body, balance disturbances can occur. After a whiplash impact, chronic headache is a common complaint (cervical syndrome).
Not only nerves, muscles and neck and spine can be damaged in whiplash trauma, also the operation of the pituitary gland can be disrupted. The pituitary is a gland the size of a pea that is connected to the hypothalamus with a stalk. It plays a regulatory role in the production of hormones that control the functioning of the thyroid gland, adrenal glands and sexual glands.
The stem can tear off due to the strong movement of the head. This seriously disrupts the functioning of the pituitary gland. That is why it is advisable to be examined by an endocrinologist, as they specialize in the detection of hormonal dysfunctions.
With a whiplash impact, the brain can be pressed hard against the inner edge of the skull (coup-contracoup impact).
You can compare this with a ball in a closed box. When you shake the box back and forth, the ball will hit the inside of the box hard. This can lead to a serious concussion (comotio cerebri) which can cause cognitive impairment.
Cognition is a collective term for all mental processes that include the ability to perceive, process, focus, memory, think, learn, etc.
Our brains are continuously processing information from the environment and from our body. They try to respond adequately and quickly to changes in our environment. This rapid adaptation is of great importance to survive as an individual.
A functional injury makes cognitive processing more difficult, which costs more energy and causes fatigue, concentration, and memory disorders.
In 1995 the Quebec Task Force made a theoretical division of whiplash trauma:
• Grade 0: no neck complaints, no physical abnormalities
• Grade 1: complaints of neck pain, stiffness and sensitivity, without physical abnormalities
• Grade 2: neck complaints and neuromuscular abnormalities
• Grade 3: neck complaints and neurological abnormalities
• Grade 4: neck complaints with fracture or dislocation
How can whiplash be treated?
A qEEG examines how the brain works in a resting state. On the basis of a comparison with a norm population, possible dysfunctions are mapped.
Stimulating the back of the head, the C2 dermatome, with direct current (tDCS) can reduce cervicogenic headaches, neck pain, balance disorders and generalized pain in the body.
Other neuromodulation forms such as tES, HD-tES, TMS, and Neurofeedback can be used to treat concentration, memory or attention deficits.
The data from the qEEG can help us determine which neuromodulation techniques can possibly improve, compensate or stabilize the disturbed brain function.