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Can children suffer from whiplash injuries?

If your child has been involved in a road traffic accident as either a front seat on rear seat passenger, this can be an extremely worrying time for you. Your main concern will be ensuring that they receive medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident if the injuries they have sustained are obvious.

However whilst you may feel a huge sense of relief if your child seems to have 'walked away' from the accident unharmed, you should be vigilant in the hours and days following the accident in noting whether your child appears to be in any pain or discomfort.

In identifying whether or not children can suffer from whiplash this guide looks at how whiplash injuries are actually caused. It also looks at what symptoms you should look out for, how your child might articulate these symptoms and what action you should take if you suspect your child may be suffering from whiplash.

Children stepping

What causes whiplash in children?

A whiplash injury is caused when the impact of a collision causes the head and neck of the driver and/or passengers in the vehicle to suddenly and forcefully be thrown back and forth or side to side, causing the soft tissue and ligaments in the neck to be stretched beyond their normal range of movement. It is evident, therefore, that this can apply to children and adults alike.

Symptoms of infants suffering whiplash

It may not be immediately apparent, to either you or your child, that your child has sustained a whiplash injury. Symptoms of whiplash do not often not present themselves until several hours, or even a couple of days, after the accident but when they do appear they may be in the form of pain, stiffness and restricted movement in the neck, headaches, dizziness and nausea.

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It may be difficult for your child especially if they are very young (a baby or toddler), to articulate these symptoms and you should watch for any change in their behaviour, mood or sleeping habits which can all alter if your child is experiencing any kind of pain or discomfort.

As soon as your child starts to complain of these symptoms - or you suspect they may be experiencing some pain and discomfort - you should seek medical advice from your GP or local Accident & Emergency Department. This will ensure that your child receives the right treatment for their injuries (which is likely to be painkilling medication, such as Calpol, and gentle mobility exercises).

It's clear that children suffer whiplash injuries, but the good news is that children are often much more resilient than adults and their recovery time can be a lot quicker if the correct form of advice and treatment is received. But nevertheless you should always be on the lookout for the first indications of whiplash in young passengers following any road accident.

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