A prospective study of 39 patients with whiplash injury

Acta Neurol Scand. 1997 Feb;95(2):65-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.1997.tb00071.x.


Introduction: The acute symptoms after whiplash traumas can be explained by the neck sprain, but the pathogenesis of the "late whiplash syndrome" and the reason why only some people have persistent symptoms more than 6 months is still unknown.

Material and methods: Thirty-four consecutive cases of whiplash injury were examined clinically three times; within 14 days, after 1 month and finally 7 months postinjury. In addition, MRI of the brain and the cervical spine, neuropsychological tests and motor evoked potentials (MEP) were done one month postinjury and repeated after 6 months, if abnormalities were found.

Results: The total recovery rate (asymptomatic patients) was 29% after 7 months. MRI was repeated in 6 patients. The correlation between MRI and the clinical findings was poor. Cognitive dysfunction as a symptom of brain injury was not found. Stress at the same time predicted more symptoms at follow-up. All MEP examinations were normal.

Conclusion: In this study, long-lasting distress and poor outcome were more related to the occurrence of stressful life events than to clinical and paraclinical findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement Disorders / etiology
  • Neck / pathology
  • Neck / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Time Factors
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications
  • Whiplash Injuries / pathology
  • Whiplash Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Whiplash Injuries / psychology