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by Dr Simon Petrides MB BS DO DM-SMed Dip Sports Med FFSEM (UK&I)

Musculoskeletal & Sports Physician | The Blackberry Clinic, Milton Keynes

The incidence of whiplash injuries of the neck seems to have become more prevalent in recent years as a result of the use of seatbelts, changes in car design and the increase simply in the numbers of people driving cars. Therapists see many patients with this problem, many of whom suffer chronic symptoms. Patients seem to present with an array of musculoskeletal symptoms which are often associated with neuromuscular and cognitive features. The condition is further confused by personal injury claims and the management is based almost completely on empirical approaches, although the guidelines issued by the Quebec Taskforce (1995) have helped consolidate opinion.

There is an immense amount of literature on whiplash and while a large proportion of the research is of poor quality, the common messages are helpful in directing our approach.

The term "whiplash" was first used in the early twentieth century to describe the particular mechanism of injury to the head and neck during a sudden acceleration or deceleration movement. The alternating motion of the head is analogous to a whip when it is cracked but more precisely the term Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD) is more appropriate.

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