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It's Just a Little Fender Bender

This post will discuss the “minor” implications of a fender bender.  It’s common in our office for people to have had “little fender benders” all the way up to serious accidents. One of the first things we do is  take a patient history to gather all of the facts that may have an impact on the chief complaint that the patient is seeking relief from. Sometimes patients will relay the entire story of a horrific car accident that may have happened years ago that required a lengthy process of ambulance rides, Emergency Room visits, lost work and months of rehabilitation care with a Chiropractor or other healthcare provider, missed work, attorney fees and court dates. Those always come up in the discussion about past health history because it took up so much time in their life. But what about the bumps, dings and parking lot fender benders? Do they have an impact and why do people not mention them until after we begin care and they start thinking more about their spines?

I watched a very good video this week that simulates a small collision. The Connecticut State police have an apparatus called “The Convincer” they take around to places like colleges, where they can show the impact of just a “little” 5 mph crash. Here the link to the video. In it, they are demonstrating the mechanics of a crash and encouraging people to wear their seatbelts. It looks a little like a roller coaster and their friends are interested in each other doing it but they all seem to have the same look on their face when they try it out just once!-SHOCK!! 

Why does this video look so brutal? Well, lets fire up some of the dusty brain cells in far back part of our brain-you know the parts where we keep things we learned in school that never saw any practical use in adulthood. Physics….ah, yes Physics- “the natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force.” Don’t worry, we’re only talking about a couple of concepts and there will be no test today. Newton’s first law states, “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” Objects in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force…If a car is traveling and is acted upon by an outside force like a wall, and you are in the car and not restrained by a seatbelt your body will continue on in the same direction until a larger force is able to slow your forward progress down, like, say a window! Going fast enough you would be treated like a projectile. “But, Doc, you said were are discussing minor fender benders!” We are! Let’s look at one more equation so we can define “minor.” Keeping it simple,  FORCE is described as MASS x ACCELERATION, or the weight of an object (we will use parameters specific to Earth for you science junkies) multiplied by the object’s speed. A 2012 Toyota Camry weighs approximately 3,400 pounds.  A 5 mph accident with a wall would be 3,400 lbs. x 5mph = .319 tons or the effect of 620 pounds of force exerted on the body. The car is more rigid than our bodies, so the body will absorb a lot of that force.

When the car does not appear damaged, people are generally just ticked off at themselves because of a mistake or the unexpected expense of a repair bill. Usually these people are happy nothing is broken, no one is bleeding and they didn’t have to go to the hospital. In reality, they just absorbed a lot of force to their bodies and in a few days, may develop symptoms such as stiffness, soreness, and achiness, but they don’t always relate it to the accident. When that amount of force enters the body, the soft tissue can be damaged and alter normal spinal mechanics and posture. If not corrected, the altered biomechanics will begin abnormal wear and tear on the joints setting up conditions for spinal degeneration.

Two things I hope you gather from this post: 1) Wear your seatbelt! and 2) there really are no MINOR accidents when a few thousand pound object (your car) is stopped immediately—you WILL be affected. At Health By Logic in Beavercreek, Oh, we care about your health and the health of your family. We want you to be aware of your health and your spine and know that we are here to help you with any of your spinal related complaints. Just give us a call at 937-426-0777.

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