What to Expect When Recovering from a Whiplash-Associated DisorderIn this article, a Task Force reports on its findings from an extensive review of studies involving whiplash-associated disorder (WAD). The course of recovery and expectations for recovery are reviewed. Factors that predict who will recovery quickly and who will have a delayed recovery are also presented.
Studies that sort out prognostic factors for recovery can be very helpful. If factors are present that will delay healing and return to normal function, then maybe it may be possible to prevent a poor or prolonged recovery. The results of these studies help in planning effective treatment and health care policies related to WAD.
The authors report that collision factors don't seem to be the reason patients fail to recover after WAD. Collision factors refer to the position of the patient in the car at the time of the accident. It doesn't seem to matter if the face is straight ahead or turned at the time of the impact. Likewise, use of the headrest and type of headrest wasn't significant.
Many people in the general population report neck pain at some time in their life. Half of all patients with WAD still have neck symptoms a year after their injury. It's possible that these neck symptoms aren't related to the injury but just a reflection of neck pain that would have occurred without the injury.
There is a wide range of age, gender, and health at the time of accidents or injuries leading to WAD. Studies reported various results linking these factors to final outcomes or showing no relationship at all. As a result, no firm conclusions were made.
More severe whiplash injuries with greater symptom intensity do predict a longer course of recovery. The best evidence points to the fact that recovery from WAD is multifactorial. In other words, it's likely that each patient has a different group of factors affecting their healing and recovery. Course and prognosis can be predicted for some, but not all, patients.
Linda J. Carroll, PhD, et al. Course and Prognostic Factors for Neck Pain in Whiplash-Associated Disorders (WAD). In Supplement to Spine February 15, 2008. Vol 33. No. 4S. Pp. 83-92.
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