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what is whiplash?

Posted Sep 05 2009 7:32am

Mark Perren-Jones From Isla verde Spa Boquete

Air bag after a collision

Airbag Many of you have heard about whiplash but what exactly is it. Here is a definition from major whiplash review that took place in 1995.

“Whiplash is an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck. It may result from rear-end or side impact motor vehicle collisions, but can also occur during diving or other mishaps. The impact may result in bony or soft tissue injuries (whiplash injury) which in turn may lead to a variety of clinical manifestations. (Whiplash associated disorders or WAD).”

Put simply, when a car hits you from behind you are propelled forward and your neck is thrust backward forcefully into extension and then is thrown into flexion. Your head can be forced into extension as high as 12G and into flexion as high as 16G! Most commonly injured are the joints, discs and ligaments.

Having said this, there’s still some controversy whether WAD is a myth or not. There are certain groups of people who do not believe in whiplash syndrome. Their argument is that his is more a problem where there are likely compensations to be gained from insurance companies.

They argue that there is no evidence of injuries when animals are put through whiplash injuries except with exceptional force, also that some studies demonstrate that no injuries have occurred on people using sophisticated imaging studies, the complete lack of neck pain in people who are in smash up derbies and who crash cars for fun, and also the huge variations in symptoms in different cultures which appears to reflect legal determinants rather than the rate of accidents. Much of this is based on a study in Lithuania is often quoted regarding their theory “ where there s little knowledge or expectation of the potential of a whiplash injury to lead to chronic symptoms, and where involvement of insurance companies, litigation and even therapeutic community is rare there is no increased prevalence of chronic neck pain after a rear end collision, when compared with the background risk of chronic neck pain in uninjured control subjects”

In 1999 however, Freeman  et al  produced a review   to challenge the authors who do not believe in whiplash syndrome. He said that “there is NO epidemiological or scientific basis for the following ideas:”

* whiplash injuries do not lead to chronic pain

* chronic pain is psychogenic

* the risk of chronic neck pain among acutely injured whiplash victims is the same as the prevalence of chronic neck pain in the general population.


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