Whiplash Frontal Impacts

By Dan J. Murphy, D.C., D.A.B.C.O.

Whiplash-Associated Disorders in Frontal Impacts: Influencing Factors and Consequences

Traffic Injury Prevention, June 2003; Vol. 4 Issue 2, pp. 153-161

Lotta Jakobsson, Hans Norm, and Olle Bunketorp (The authors are associated with Volvo Car Corporation)

These authors performed an in-depth investigation of accidents using 24 occupants with neck symptoms. Their results show the complexity of whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) in frontal impacts with respect to factors that influence occurrence as well as duration of symptoms. 

The, key points noted in this article include:

Whiplash statistical information

  1. Whiplash injuries occur in 1:2-24% of frontal impact collision riders.
  2. 'Whiplash" injury symptoms can include neck pain, neck stiffness, neck tenderness, all with or without musculoskeletal / neurological signs; and occasionally deafness, dizziness, tinnitus, headache, memory loss, dysphagia, and TMJ disorders. 
  3. There is no correlation between delta-V and initial symptom intensity.
  4. In this study, the delta-V varied from about 3 mph to about 12 mph and moderate intense symptoms were seen throughout this entire range.  This indicates that delta-V of the vehicle is not related to occupant injury.
  5. Taller occupants tend to be more injured in collisions than shorter occupants.
  6. Minor to moderate degenerative changes of the discs and/or facets are not associated with higher initial symptom intensity. How long does whiplash last
  7. This article clearly documents a case where the patient had no pain on the day of collision, significant pain 20 days and 3 months after collision, and frequent pain at one year. This indicates that patients with no initial pain can develop significant pain that lasts for more than a year.
  8. This article also documents a case where the patient had no symptoms for the first year after the collision, but then developed symptoms after 1 year that required treatment.
  9. In frontal collisions, the best safety combination was being belted and having an air bag. Even though the crashes with belts and air bags were of quite high impact severity, none of the patients experienced intense or long-lasting neck symptoms.
  10. In this study, 40% of the patients had symptoms that lasted more than one year. This adds to the evidence that a significant number of those injured in motor vehicle collisions do not recover in a few weeks, and symptoms can extend for more than one year. 
  11. Arm symptoms from neck injury are related to a less favorable prognostic outcome.
  12. "All of the cases with initial high symptom intensity had symptoms lasting more than 1 year." This indicates that initial; severe symptoms are associated with a prolonged recovery.
  13. Occupants in the same vehicle with the exact same delta-V can have completely different injury, symptoms, symptom intensity, and symptom duration. This indicates that individual factors are more important than car-related factors in establishing injury, symptom intensity and symptom duration. [Very Important]
  14. There is no single car-related factor that is responsible for symptom aggravation or duration.
  15. The higher the initial symptom intensity, the longer the duration of symptoms the patient would have, indicating that initial pain intensity has prognostic relevance. [Important]

DAN MURPHY. D.C., D.A.B.C.O. graduated magna cum laude from Western States Chiropractic College in 1978 and has more than 20 years of practice experience. He received his Diplomate in Orthopedics in 1986. Dr. Murphy has served as a part-time faculty member of Life Chiropractic College West since 1982. Internationally recognized for his lectures, Dr. Murphy has taught more than 1,000 seminars in the US and around the world. He currently serves as the Vice President of the ICA.

More Whiplash Information

Whiplash Injury vs Auto Crash Severity
Correlating Crash Severity with Injury Risk, Injury Severity, and Long-term Symptoms in Low Velocity Motor Vehicle Collisions... read more HERE

Whiplash Or Soft Tissue Injury & Minor Impact
Refuting the concept of minor impact soft tissue injury, a review of the literature refuting the concept of minor impact soft tissue injury... read more HERE

Whiplash Frontal Impact
Whiplash Frontal Impact Update on Low Impact Motor Vehicle Collisions, a Review Of Six Studies An in-depth investigation of accidents using 24 occupants with neck symptoms... read more HERE

Whiplash | Rear End Collisions
Whiplash Following Rear End Collisions: This is a unique study because it is a prospective study that looked at all individuals who had been exposed to the trauma of a rear-end motor vehicle collision, ... read more HERE

Whiplash | Fact or Fiction?
Whiplash: Fact or Fiction? The American Journal of Orthopedics January 2005 Jeff S. Silber, MD, Victor M. Hayes, MD. Jason Lipetz, MD, and Alexander R. Vaccaro, MD read more HERE

How long does whiplash last?
In this prospective study, 7.5 years after sustaining whiplash injury: (whiplash statistical information) read more HERE

Car Accident Injury
Your Greatest Loss May Occur After the Wreck! A minor accident?
Even a minor automobile accident can have major ill effects on your health. It may be weeks, months, even years before the problem shows itself... read more HERE

Accident Checklist of Symptoms
Take just two minutes to check for any symptoms you may have in the days and weeks following an accident. See checklist HERE

Insurance companies realize the many advantages of Chiropractic care for personal injury cases and routinely cover these costs for the injured... read more HERE

Chiropractic doctors who are trained and experienced in personal injury cases, such as Dr. Huber, appear as expert witnesses in courts all over the country...read moreHERE