Whiplash

Whiplash - What is Whiplash?

Whiplash and whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) represent a range of injuries to the neck caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck.

Whiplash is commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents, usually when the vehicle has been hit in the rear; however, the injury can be sustained in many other ways, including falls from bicycles.

The exact injury mechanism that causes whiplash injuries is unknown. A whiplash injury may be the result of impulsive stretching of the spine, mainly the ligament: anterior longitudinal ligament which is stretched or tears, as the head snaps forward and then back again causing a whiplash injury.

Whiplash may be caused by any motion similar to a rear-end collision in a motor vehicle, such as may take place on a roller coaster or other rides at an amusement park, sports injuries such as skiing accidents, other modes of transportation such as airplane travel, or from being hit, kicked or shaken. Shaken baby syndrome can result in a whiplash injury.

The consequences of whiplash range from mild pain for a few days (which is the case for most people), to severe disability caused by restricted head movement or of the cervical spine, sometimes with persistent pain.

Alterations in resting state cerebral blood flow have been demonstrated in patients with chronic pain after whiplash injury

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Whiplash Symptoms

Symptoms reported by sufferers include: pain and aching to the neck and back, referred pain to the shoulders, sensory disturbance (such as pins and needles) to the arms & legs and headaches. Symptoms can appear directly after the injury, but often are not felt until days afterwards.

Québec Task Force

The ''Québec Task Force'' (''QTF'') was a task force sponsored by the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, the public auto insurer in Quebec, Canada. The QTF submitted a report on whiplash-associated disorders in 1995, which made specific recommendations on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of WAD. These recommendations have become the base for ''Guideline on the Management of Claims Involving Whiplash-Associated'', a guide to classifying WAD and guidelines on managing the disorder. The full report titled ''Redefining "Whiplash"'' was published in the April 15, 1995 issue of ''Spine''. An update was published in January 2001.

Québec Task Force grades of disorder

Four grades of Whiplash-Associated Disorder were defined by the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-associated disorders (WADs):

  • Grade 0: no neck pain, stiffness, or any physical signs are noticed
  • Grade 1: neck complaints of pain, stiffness or tenderness only but no physical signs are noted by the examining physician.
  • Grade 2: neck complaints and the examining physician finds decreased range of motion and point tenderness in the neck.
  • Grade 3: neck complaints plus neurological signs such as decreased deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits.
  • Grade 4: neck complaints and fracture or dislocation, or injury to the spinal cord.

A different approach is taken by the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who suggest that treatment for individuals with whiplash may include pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and a cervical collar (usually worn for 2 to 3 weeks). Range of motion exercises, physical therapy, and cervical traction may also be prescribed. Supplemental heat application may relieve muscle tension.

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Whiplash (medicine)" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Whiplash Protection

Protection efforts are hampered by lack of knowledge about the causes of whiplash injuries. The focus of preventive measures to date has been on the design of car seats, primarily through the introduction of headrestraints, often called headrests.

This approach is potentially problematic given the underlying assumption that purely mechanical factors cause whiplash injuries - an unproven theory. So far the injury reducing effects of head restraints appears to have been low, approximately 5-10%, because car seats have become stiffer in order to increase crash-worthiness of cars in high-speed rear-end collisions which in turn could increase the risk of whiplash injury in low-speed rear impact collisions.

Improvements in the geometry of car seats through better design and energy absorption could offer additional benefits. Active devices move the body in a crash in order to shift the loads on the car seat.,

  • Saab (Responsible for the first active head restraint), Opel, Ford, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, and Peugeot - Active Head restraint (SAHR),
  • Volvo and Jaguar - Whiplash Protection System/Whiplash Prevention System (WHIPS), and
  • Toyota - Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL). One study found that an active head restraint system helps reduce the risk of neck injuries by up to 75% in rear-end collisions.

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Whiplash (medicine)" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.