The Problem of Whiplash Injuries: Aetiology, Assessment and Treatment

Chapter

Abstract

A large number of people are involved in a survivable road traffic crash (RTC) each year. While the health burden of major injuries, such as spinal cord and brain injuries, is clearly recognised, the physical and mental health outcomes of RTC survivors with predominantly non-hospitalised injuries are also surprisingly poor. Whiplash associated disorders (WAD) are the most common non-hospitalised RTC injury, and up to 50 % of people who experience a whiplash injury will never fully recover, and approximately 30 % will remain moderately to severely disabled by their condition (Carroll et al., 2008; Rebbeck, Sindhausen, & Cameron, 2006; Sterling, Jull, & Kenardy, 2006). Less recognised are the mental health issues that accompany this condition. The prevalence of psychiatric disorders has been shown to be 25 % for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Kenardy, Heron-Delaney, Bellamy, Sterling, & Connelly, 2011; Mayou & Bryant, 2002; Sterling, Hendrikz, & Kenardy, 2010), 31 % for major depressive episode and 20 % for generalised anxiety disorder (Heron-Delaney, Kenardy, Bellamy, Sterling, & Connelly, 2011). Moreover, whiplash incurs enormous personal, social and economic costs. In Queensland, Australia, the economic costs related to whiplash injury are substantial, and exceeded $400 million from 2002 to 2009, with the condition accounting for the vast majority of any submitted claims, as well as the greatest incurred costs in the Queensland compulsory third-party insurance scheme (MAIC, 2010). Claims for personal injury after whiplash cost the United Kingdom more than £3 billion per year (Joslin, Khan, & Bannister, 2004), while data from the United States are even greater, with costs reaching $230 billion US dollars per annum (Blincoe et al., 2002).

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation MedicineThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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