Posted tagged ‘auto accident’

Steer Clear of Neck Braces

November 27, 2009

[originally published in KCN, December 2009]

Cervical Soft CollarEver so often I will spot someone wearing a brace around their neck. To be clear, I’m not talking about the rigid neck braces that EMT’s and paramedics employ to stabilize a suspected neck injury when they arrive on an accident scene. I’m talking about the soft, usually white, neck-supporting collars that are worn by people who are suffering from neck pain. These devices are often prescribed by well-meaning doctors, or are purchased by patients themselves at local pharmacies as a form of self-care for neckache. And while they look official, the irony is that they don’t do a bit of good. In fact, according to most research, they actually do more harm than good!

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Railway Spine

September 18, 2009

railway-train-flip[originally published in KCN, May 2000]

Back in the “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” days people suffering from neck pain following train accidents would likely have been diagnosed, or “labeled” I should say, with the downgrading term “railway spine.”  You see, railway spine was a condition that garnered a lot of suspicion, as the genuineness of the suffering patients exhibited was questionable to some.  Unlike other possible aches and pains a person of this era may have experienced, like falling off his horse, this condition was different, in that it involved a liable party — the railroad company — putting the patient in a position of gaining some extra gold nuggets for his pouch.

Fast forward to Y2K.  Ironically, not a lot has changed — except we don’t use gold as common currency, and the term railway spine no longer exists.  It was retired a long time ago — upgraded to a term most of us are more familiar with:  “whiplash.”  Perhaps this change in verbiage was prompted by the fact that automobiles have replaced trains as our primary method of transportation.  With 6 million injuries per year due to automobile accidents — 50% resulting in whiplash-type injuries — it is a rare day when a patient walks into the doctor’s office with whiplash following an Amtrak incident. (more…)


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