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Glendale, CA 91206
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No Correlation Found Between Magnitude of Injury and Incidence of Whiplash

Posted on: 04/26/2007
In the United States alone, it's estimated that as many as 1 million new cases of whiplash are diagnosed each year. Whiplash is not only painful and debilitating, it also exacts an economic cost through loss of work and personal injury claims.

Whiplash is traditionally associated with rear-end vehicle impacts, including low-speed impacts. When undertaking this retrospective study, the researchers wanted to learn if higher impact injuries would result in a higher incidence of whiplash.

This study involved 101 consecutive patients who had experienced multiple injuries from a high-impact accident (a fall from more than two meters or a road traffic accident at more than 30 km/hr) that could result in whiplash. After examination, 13 of the patients, all of whom had been in traffic accidents, complained of whiplash injury and they became the study group. Eighty-eight did not complain of whiplash pain and became the control group. During initial triage, 69 percent of the patients in the study group complained of neck pain, while only 20 percent in the study group complained of similar pain. Injury severity, which included head, facial, and chest injuries, and skull, spine, and arm fractures, were higher in the study group.

The researchers collected data on patient demographics, how the injury occurred, where the patient was in the vehicle if involved in a road traffic accident, treatment, and length of hospital stay, among other details. After discharge, the patients were followed monthly, with a mean follow-up of 17 months.

According to the study's findings, a relatively low number of patients, only 13 percent, developed whiplash following the high-impact trauma. There were no statistical differences found between the study and control groups regarding the length of stay in intensive care, overall hospital stay, injury distribution (other than tibial, foot, and ankle fractures [P<0.001], neck physiotherapy received, and any litigation.

The authors concluded that their hypothesis of increased whiplash with high-impact injury was not correct and that there was no direct correlation between the impact of the trauma and the incidence of whiplash.

Peter V. Giannoudis, MD, EEC (Ortho), et al. Incidence and Outcome of Whiplash Injury After Multiple Trauma. In Spine. April 2007. Vol. 32. No. 7. Pp. 776-781.

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