Clinical response of human subjects to rear-end automobile collisions

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Jan;79(1):72-80. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(98)90212-x.


Objective: Forty-two persons were exposed to controlled low-speed rear-end automobile collisions to assess the relation between both gender and impact severity and the presence, severity, and duration of whiplash-associated disorders (WAD). Individual measures were also assessed for their potential to predict the onset of WAD.

Design: Experimental study subjecting individuals to a speed change of 4 km/h and 8 km/h and utilizing pretest and posttest physical examinations (immediately after and 24 hours after impact) to quantify subjects' clinical response.

Results: Approximately 29% and 38% of the subjects exposed to the 4 km/h and 8 km/h speed changes, respectively, experienced WAD symptoms, with cervical symptoms and headaches predominating. Objective clinical deficits consistent with WAD were measured in both men and women subjects at both 4 km/h and 8 km/h. At 4 km/h, the duration of symptoms experienced by women was significantly longer when compared with that in men (p < .05). There were no significant differences in the presence and severity of WAD between men and women at 4 km/h and 8 km/h or in the duration of WAD at 8 km/h. There was also no significant difference in the presence, severity, and duration of WAD between 4 km/h and 8 km/h. No preimpact measures were predictive of WAD.

Conclusion: The empirical findings in this study contribute to establishing a causal relationship between rear-end collisions and clinical signs and symptoms.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anthropometry
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Whiplash Injuries / diagnosis
  • Whiplash Injuries / etiology*
  • Whiplash Injuries / physiopathology