Ground-breaking US research shows whiplash patients have different symptoms

Published: 22/04/2015

Recently published research from the US has shown that about twenty five percent of those who experience whiplash injuries will have have pain or disability issues to deal with over the longer term. The study involved the use of MRI scans (Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans that can produce detailed pictures of parts of the body). The participants had developed chronic pain, disability and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within the first one or two weeks following the injury.

Through the use of a specialised MRI that measures the fat / water ratio in the muscles the scientists discovered unusual muscular changes in the chronic pain group. Further imaging showed large amounts of fat infiltrating the patients’ neck muscles, indicating rapid atrophy. The presence of this fat in the muscle doesn’t appear to be related to a person’s body size or shape.

The researchers commented that this research paves the way for more investigations on whiplash as it shows that it is not a consistent condition but rather one which has different clinical symptoms for individual sufferers.

Personal injury solicitor, Kevin Smith comments:

“This research shows that we’ve a long way to go in fully understanding the effects of whiplash and managing the long term pain it causes for the victims of road traffic accidents. Whiplash claims and Claimant Solicitors have come under significant scrutiny and criticism in recent years. In some sectors whiplash is perceived as a ‘mythical injury’ as it is a subjective ‘invisible’ injury. However, those who have sustained a whiplash injury know such a suggestion couldn’t be further from the truth. This research is very interesting – although it doesn’t necessarily identify an objective way of determining a whiplash injury it does suggest that objective testing can identify the possibility of long-term future problems stemming from a whiplash injury. Such a factor should be considered when assessing, valuing and settling claims. No doubt further investigations will be undertaken in this area as it could have a knock on effect with claims. If it is accepted in the medical profession that this is an accurate/reliable test then we may see MRI recommendations becoming more commonplace and provisions for future care, rehabilitation and PSLA (Pain suffering and loss of amenity) being factored in to settlements.”

Content correct at time of publication

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