Reality TV stars Honey Boo Boo and her family were in an auto accident last week.  Fortunately, no one in the family featured in cable show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” was seriously injured.

News media from around the world have given prominent coverage to the accident, due to the public’s fascination with the family from rural McIntyre, Georgia. According to wire services, young reality star Honey Boo Boo and members of her family were in a car accident on January 6, 2014. The 8-year-old, along with her mother, Mama June, and older sister, Pumpkin, were passengers in the car being driven by the Thompson family patriarch, Sugar Bear.

According to TMZ, “the family was at a red light, waiting to turn left. When the light turned green, Sugar Bear began to make his turn, but a truck, which was allegedly speeding, ran a red light and smashed into the car.”

Honey Boo Boo’s family is not alone in feeling the pain of vehicle accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates there are over six million vehicular accidents every year in the United States. Worldwide, an estimated 1.2 million people are killed and fifty million injured in car accidents.  Some of these victims find their way to the examining room of back specialist Dr. Craig Callewart of Texas Back Institute. Recently, we chatted with him to get some insights about the physical effects of vehicle accidents. More on this later.

An 8-Year Old Reality Star

honeyboobooMs. Boo Boo, whose legal name is Alana Thompson, rose to fame after appearing in The Learning Channel’s reality show “Toddlers & Tiaras” which shared the trial and tribulations of young beauty contestants. The sub-plots included members of Thompson family as they found ways to scrape by on Sugar Bear’s meager earnings from his job as a chalk miner.

With the accident behind them, the family of Honey Boo Boo can hopefully get back to show business. The next season of the show begins on January 16, 2014. However, there may be complications from this car crash and we asked back specialist Dr. Craig Callewart to give us some insights about the injuries which might result.

After the Accident

Callewart“It’s very possible to walk away from an auto accident and have serious injuries show up later,” Dr. Callewart said.

“After an accident, the body is in shock and adrenaline covers the pain. So, the body of the accident victim will often fail to recognize the pain from injury until later.”

Since so many people are involved in vehicle accidents each year, there’s a great possibility that at some time or another we all will go through post-accident trauma the Thompson family is experiencing. It therefore seems prudent to see a physician – preferably a specialist such as those at Texas Back Institute – after an accident.

As a spine trauma specialist, what are the three things that Dr. Callewart checks on a patient who has been in an accident?

“For someone suffering from a neck injury, I first check for headaches,” he notes. “Having headaches suggest more severity in the injuries which can be caused by whiplash from the accident.”

“We also check for muscle spasms and sprains,” he said. “If these are being experienced by the patient, there is a possibility of more serious injuries.”

“Finally, I look for pain that might that might be shooting from the neck to in between the shoulder blades,” he noted.

Common Injuries from Car Crashes

In his practice, Dr. Callewart deals with many traumatic injuries to the back muscles and spinal column. What are the most common injuries that result from a motor vehicle?

“Muscle strains or ligament strains are statistically the most common injuries we treat after an auto accident,” he noted. “While not as dangerous as fractures to vertebrae, these injuries can be extremely painful and require rehabilitation and medication.

“Disc herniation or rupture in the spinal column, which less frequent, can also occur after a vehicle crash,” he notes. “The impact of the crash can force the discs between the vertebrae to compress and this can cause them to rupture.”

Pain and soreness are common for anyone who has experienced a wreck. Is there anything to be done to ameliorate this pain?

“While driving, don’t sit in bucket seats,” he notes. “The pain will be less if one rides with the hips up higher than the thighs.”

“After a crash, the victim’s neck will likely be sore and this is a good time to learn how to properly use the side and rearview mirrors when backing a car. When these are used properly, there is less likelihood of further neck strain resulting from quick head movement.”

Other ways to avoid this neck strain while backing is to purchase a small, self-adhesive inexpensive round mirror and stick in on the side mirror. This will afford a larger view for the driver. Dr. Callewart also recommends an enlarged rear-view mirror which can give a 160 degree view.

The best way to avoid the pain and injury of an accident is to avoid them altogether by driving safely and buckling one’s seatbelt. However, this is not always possible. As Dr. Callewart notes, “Car crashes simply follow the laws of physics. A heavy vehicle (mass) going at even a moderate speed (velocity) will result in a force or momentum that can cause great destruction.”

Accident behind them, Mama June, Sugar Bear and Honey Boo Boo will all be back for another year on TLC in January. You can bet the producers will find a way to work this crash into the storyline. Stay tuned.

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