The Australian National University (ANU) has partnered with the University of Aarhus in Denmark and Canberra Hospital to study new ways of diagnosing whiplash.
Whiplash is a term commonly used to describe injuries sustained from the rapid backwards and forwards movement of a person’s head, usually as the result of a vehicular collision.
For years, the injury type has been a point of contention, encompassing legitimate cases and others believed to be fraudulent attempts to extract compensation and disability benefits.
The team is currently studying the data from a new ‘3 Tesla’ Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, which it says offers more clarity and detail than the more common ‘1.5 Tesla’ unit.
ANU’s Dr Alexandra Webb said participants in the study will have their neck scanned by the new MRI, in order to better identify whiplash injuries.
“There has been substantial speculation regarding the source of neck pain and disability following whiplash, largely stemming from the elusiveness of structural damage in the neck,” Dr Webb said.
“However, recent advances in imaging technology have facilitated improvements in the identification of structural changes affecting the neck’s joints and muscles.”
The ANU says a report complied last year found the number of car crash casualties in the Australian Capital Territory receiving medical treatment following collisions almost tripled from 238 in 2003 to 670 in 2012.
According to the New South Wales Motor Accidents Authority (NSW MAA), whiplash is the most frequently recorded injury among third-party personal (CTP) injury claimants in NSW, making up approximately 45 percent of all claims.
The NSW MAA estimates the cost of treating whiplash over the ten years from 1989-1998 at around $1.5 billion through lost work productivity and medical expenses; a cost that has surely risen in the following decade (1998-2008) and beyond.
The team’s research into whiplash continues, with Dr Webb saying the ANU is looking for people between 18-29 years of age who have sustained a neck injury as a result of a motor vehicle collision.