I recently had a patient come to see me after an auto accident they were involved in who was in quite a bit of pain. As we got to talking though, it became obvious that it was not the pain that they were currently in that concerned them the most, it was if they would be able to run in marathons again following this significant injury. "Will my injuries heal to 100% and allow me to partake in running again like I was able to do before?" The good news is that with appropriate treatment, motor vehicle injuries can heal without leaving you with residual problems. The bad news is that a large percentage of traumatic injuries will have residual problems.
In one study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the authors
followed up on patients involved in motor vehicle collisions approximately fi-
fteen years earlier. The authors wanted to know whether patients, fifteen ye-
ars after cervical injury, had improved or worsened symptoms, and whether
psychological variables played a role in the patient's condition. A group of six-
ty one patients was studied. All had presented to the same emergency depar-
tment in England after car collision-related soft tissue injury to the neck. Forty
were available for the follow-up. Ninety percent of this group had been involv-
ed in rear-end motor vehicle collisions. (From Injury to Action: Navigating Your
Personal Injury Claim, Richard H. Adler, Chapter 31, Page 130)
What the study found was quite surprising. They found that 70% of the patients were still experiencing some sort of symptoms. Of that 70%, 42% of the injured had moderate to severe symptoms. Of the 61 patients 28% of them had actually gotten worse over the years. It was found that the patients who had radiating pain at the time of the injury typically had the worst outcomes. The researchers also found that there was definitely a correlation between the patients pain and depression symptoms.
In my opinion the thing that gives an injured person the best chance for a positive outcome to their injuries is two fold: 1. Know the extent of your injuries via in-depth and thorough diagnostics, including video flouroscopy if involved in a whiplash type injury. 2. Receive the appropriate treatment for your injuries to its completion.
Dr. Michael Weir is the clinic director at Bellevue Whiplash Center at Back in Action Chiropractic. We will also be hosting a variety of relevant guest bloggers to help you understand your injuries better.