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Widening The Debate On Complex Whiplash Injury Research

Man holding his neck in pain
14th May 2014
Medical practitioners are still researching the mechanisms associated with whiplash injury and whiplash associated disorders (WAD). It is abundantly clear that every individual claim for whiplash may involve a more complex diagnosis involving blood supply and the central nervous system.

Whiplash associated disorders (WAD) has been identified by five categories where a patient reports:

1. No neck pain or stiffness and no physical signs such as tenderness or decreased range of motion.
2. Increased neck pain and stiffness but no physical signs of injury.
3. Increased neck pain and stiffness and demonstrated physical signs of injury including tenderness and decreased range of motion.
4. Increased neck pain and stiffness, demonstrated physical signs of injury and neurological signs such as altered reflex or upper extremity reflex.
5. Increased neck pain with fracture, dislocation or spinal cord injury.

However, recent and ongoing science and clinical research has been carried out into the assessment and accurate sub-group classification and management of patients with neck pain - most notably the mechanistic basis for pain, physical and psychological impairment in the musculoskeletal system in cases of traumatic whiplash.

A seminar, "New Directions for Understanding Whiplash - Have We Been Driving in the Wrong Lane?", due to take place at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, US, over 4 days in Feb/Mar 2013, aims to bring together a wide range of medical professionals into several forums of discussion.

It is hoped that physical therapists, Orthopaedic/Neurological surgeons, and others who treat or research cervical spine pain, will gain further “insight into the mechanisms underlying the pain, physical and psychological impairments to help with individual diagnosis of a patient’s neck pain and disability following whiplash injury.”

The opening up of debate on more complex whiplash injury could have a significant impact on widening the scope of future whiplash claims.