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Patient outlook gives clue to whiplash recovery

A patient’s attitude to whiplash is key to their chances of full recovery, according to the findings of a new study.

As well as causing patients severe distress, the diversity of whiplash symptoms makes prediction of recovery very difficult, said researchers from Sweden and Canada.

They surveyed just over 1,000 adult claimants from two insurance companies in Sweden. Only a quarter of the people with whiplash said they expected to make a full recovery.

Those who stated that they were less likely to make a full recovery were more likely to have a high disability six months after the survey, compared to individuals who stated that they were likely to make a full recovery, said the authors.

This link remained even after taking into account the severity of symptoms, and how well the person was coping psychologically.

The authors said an ‘early assessment of expectations of recovery’ should be made to predict a patient’s progress or chance of eventual recovery.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I once asked an orthopaedic consultant (who was married to a barrister) I used to work with how long a 'whiplash' injury might take to recover:
    'As long as it takes to settle their claim'.

    Maria Gough RGN

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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