Low Velocity Impact and Whiplash

Whiplash injury comes at a significant cost to the UK economy. It elicits significant controversy in the medical and legal world and remains a debated contentious topic with strong opinion in favour of and against this condition being a serious medical condition versus a social problem.

The term whiplash actually refers to the mechanism of injury and is stated to be an acceleration/deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck which may result from motor vehicle accidents. There is very little that is objective when dealing with a so-called soft tissue injury of the neck. In grade 1 and grade 2 whiplash associated disorder (WAD) the injury cannot be proven objectively and claimants report pain, tenderness and other subjective symptoms that are difficult to prove and difficult to refute.

The general assumption is that grade 1 and grade 2 WAD represent a sprain. Most volunteers in whiplash experiments behave as if they had a minor sprain with symptoms resolving within a matter of days, if not weeks.

Various factors have been blamed as responsible for increased vulnerability of certain patients in sustaining a whiplash injury. These factors have included age, sex, position of the occupant in the vehicle, position of the head, being unaware of the impact and pre-existing degenerative neck changes amongst others. Recent well conducted reviews have shown that there is no evidence that any of these factors are responsible for causing vulnerability to injury or for the chronicity of symptoms and in fact the only factors that have a relationship with such chronicity are psychological factors.

Medical experts generally fall in to 2 categories, those that believe that an individual can be injured in accidents of less than 5mph and those that do not.

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