Whiplash injuries in Finland: the situation 3 years later
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The aim of this study was to define the influence of whiplash injuries on the perceived condition of health 3 years after injury. We evaluated remaining symptoms and the use of health services. Insurance companies provided reports and medical certificates from traffic accidents in Finland in 1998, for those injured who had agreed to take part in the study. Participants in the 1-year follow-up study answered a self-report questionnaire. Three years after the whiplash-causing accident, 11.8% of participants reported that injury symptoms had caused their health to deteriorate significantly as compared with before the accident. Neck pain was the most common single symptom, reported by 14.6% of respondents. The severity of the initial symptoms according to the WAD classification is reflected in the subject’s self-perception of health after 3 years. A remarkable 10–17% of respondents still used health services regularly because of the symptoms. Although some of the injured had improved in the long term, some reported that their health condition was worse after 3 years than at the 1-year follow-up. The percentage of respondents reporting a significant health deterioration remains unchanged 3 years after the whiplash injury. These findings illuminate the importance of early recognition of risk factors for long-term disability and the primary treatment and rehabilitation procedures.
KeywordsWhiplash injury Traffic accidents Prognosis Rehabilitation
This work was supported financially by the Finnish Motor Insurers’ Centre.
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