Cognitive deficits in patients after soft tissue injury of the cervical spine

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1992 Feb;17(2):127-31. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199202000-00001.


Fifty-one patients suffering from soft tissue injury of the cervical spine underwent clinical and psychometric examination. Clinical interview evaluated subjective complaints and formal testing of self-estimated cognitive impairment, divided attention, and speed of information processing. Results indicated at least two different syndromes: 1) the "cervicoencephalic syndrome," characterized by headache, fatigue, dizziness, poor concentration, disturbed accommodation, and impaired adaptation to light intensity; and 2) the "lower cervical spine syndrome," which is accompanied by cervical and cervicobrachial pain. When comparing patients with either of these two syndromes, those suffering from cervicoencephalic syndrome had significantly poorer results when tested for divided attention. Speed of information processing was reduced to a comparable extent in both syndromes. These findings were not related to the length of the post-traumatic interval. Reduced processing of working memory is assumed, which may account for more global cognitive problems as well as secondary neurotic reaction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Dizziness / etiology
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Syndrome
  • Time Factors
  • Whiplash Injuries / psychology*