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When an individual or an entire family is in an automobile
accident they may seek out a chiropractor to provide care for
their soft-tissue injuries. The Family Wellness Chiropractor is
skilled in caring for the entire family; moms, dads, kids, infants,
teens and even grandparents and pregnant moms.
That’s not to say that every automobile accident related injury
will benefit from Chiropractic Care, some injuries may require
care by other specialists; but the Doctor of Chiropractic is well
versed in the injuries that result from automobile accidents and
can help your family recover through gentle adjustments.
The Injured Child
In the United States in 2011, more than 650 children died
(under the age of 12) and 148,000 were injured in automobile
accidents. Additionally, in the first six months of 2011, over 200
teens, ages 16-17, were killed in motor vehicle crashes.
Dr. Dan Murphy, considered an expert in the effects of
automobile accidents on children and pregnant women, has
found that there are many contributing factors to the injuries
sustained by children involved in collisions. These include head
size, body length and their center of gravity, just to name a few.
He has also determined that these same factors are affected by
the type of child restraints in use at the time of the accident.
Children and the Chiropractor
The pediatric population may be one of the most underserved
when it comes to post-automobile collision care. Considered
“fine” because they “were in a car seat” or “have no apparent
symptoms” (i.e. no specific pains that are considered normal
effects of a car accident) many parents and most family
practitioners are not aware that children may have soft-tissue
injuries that warrant further examination by a Family Wellness
Chiropractor that specializes in the care of children.
Many times there are “Silent Signals” that something is amiss
that will be noticed by a parent but not deemed something of
concern by a pediatrician or family practitioner. However, your
Doctor of Chiropractic will recognize these as a signal from the
body that something isn’t right.
One of these signals may be “positional discomfort”. This can
be seen when an infant or toddler becomes fussy or is obviously
in distress when placed in a certain position. For instance, lying
on their back or placed in a reclined position. Other signals
include night terrors, picky eating, elimination issues (usually
constipation), being exceptionally clingy, anxious or unable to
focus. Of course, these signals are of increased concern if they
are out of the blue or out of the realm of normal behavior for
this particular child.
If you are unsure if your child has been injured in an automobile
accident and you are noticing any of the above “Silent Signals”
your child may benefit from a chiropractic exam.
Consultations, Examinations and Re-Examinations
Your Family Wellness Chiropractor knows that being in a car
seat doesn’t mean your child was immune to injury and may ask
you the following questions regarding the automobile accident:
• Type of restraint system that was used
• Location in vehicle; and if an older child, can they
communicate pre-impact body position?
• Position of the child after the injury
• Was there crying, confusion, signs of pain or discomfort?
• What other symptoms besides neck, back pain or
Your Doctor of Chiropractic’s examination may vary due to the
nature of the injury and the position your child was in at the
moment of impact. Examinations that they may perform are
static and motion palpation, range of motion tests, postural or
maybe even x-rays if it’s warranted by the results of the initial
consultation and exam.
Your child will also have regular re-examinations which are
recommended every 30 days or 12 visits. Things to consider
at that time could be your child’s quality of life, how they’re
sleeping, their appetite and behavior as all of these can be
symptoms of the underlying effects of the automobile accident.
Also, remember that it’s not unusual for a child to be unable or
no longer want to perform activities that they used to enjoy.
Your Child’s Advocate
Unfortunately, the insurance community has historically not
accepted the legitimacy of soft-tissue injuries in children
resulting from automobile accidents. They generally assume,
and mistakenly believe, that if the child was in a car seat then
they were invulnerable. As a parent, if you’ve noticed any
abnormal behavior or unusual symptoms in your child, you are
a better judge of what is normal for your child.
Your Family Wellness Chiropractor will listen to you and will
be your child’s advocate for care. They will probably ask you a
lot of questions that may seem unrelated to the insult suffered
during the car accident but know that they are gathering as
much information as possible to ensure that your child gets all
the care they need.
The Pre-Natal Patient
Automobile accidents during pregnancy can be extremely
frightening with statistics stating that an estimated 300 to
1,000 unborn children die in car accidents each year. Sadly,
this may not even be accurate as states are not required to
track fetal deaths when reporting accident data.
Concerns for the unborn baby can include placental abruption
(this is when the placenta becomes detached from the uterus),
physical in-utero injury (which may result in cerebral palsy, brain
damage or other birth defects) or an increased risk of danger
to the mother or child during delivery, just to name a few.
Your Family Wellness Chiropractor will want to see any reports
from the accident to determine how best to proceed during
your consultation and initial examination. It’s important for
your Doctor of Chiropractic to know what immediate care, if
any, was offered and what your OB or midwife has determined.
Questions to Consider
As with pediatric injuries, your Family Wellness Chiropractor
will ask questions that will help to determine any areas of
special concern. Some of the questions will be:
• How close were you to the steering wheel?
• Did the airbag deploy and where was the point of
• How was the seatbelt used?
• Did you feel abdominal trauma from the seatbelt?
• What position was your body in at the time of the
collision and where was it afterwards?
• Did you go to the emergency room immediately or to
your OB/midwife first?
• Was their bruising from the airbag or seatbelt?
• What did your OB or midwife report?
An increase in the hormone Relaxin may cause the joints and
ligaments to be more relaxed which may actually allow for
more soft-tissue damage than may have been suffered by a
woman who is not pregnant. For example, if your arms were
on the steering wheel, you may have an increased chance
of insult to your next or upper back. If your right leg was
extended out on a pedal (either gas or brake) your pelvis may
have rotated on impact.
It’s very important to have a comprehensive consultation and
examination in order to document the nature of any injury
suffered in an automobile accident. You and your unborn baby
may benefit from gentle adjustments.
For both the pediatric and pregnant patient, the Doctor
of Chiropractic will consider all factors involved with an
automobile accident and determine how best to assist the
body in recovering.