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Callis Childs P.A.

42 years of experience in injury law.
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Medical Injury Studies

Nine Medical Studies Show That Pain Symptoms May Not Be Present For Hours, Days, Weeks, Months Or Even Years After Injury

A Special Report
Medical Studies

  1. A study entitled “Symptomatology and Treatment of Injuries of the Neck” written in 1955 noted that “Severe damage to the neck very often occurs in automobile accidents, especially to persons who are in a head-on collision or are sitting in a stopped or slowly moving automobile which is hit in the rear.”
    It also notes that “we cannot emphasize too strongly that symptoms may be delayed for months or even years.” (Braaf, M.D., and Rosner, M.D., in New York State Medical Journal, January 15, 1955).
  2. The study “Survey of One Hundred Causes of Whiplash Injury after Settlement of Litigation” concluded a number of things. Dr. Nicholas Gotten, M.D., the author or the study said that “the effect of . . . rapid deceleration [caused by a car wreck] is to cause a stretching of the muscles and ligaments of the neck and possibly some edema, hemorrhage, and even direct trauma to the nerve roots.”
    He then went on to say that in his study “in most instances the initial evidence of injury seemed trivial or minor, and, indeed, many times the patient, himself, belittled the injury, saying “I did not think I was hurt” or “I thought nothing of it.” The patient continued on his way, only to have symptoms develop several hours or even days later.
    In such instances, where there was little or minor evidence of trauma upon physical examination, chronic, persistent symptoms unresponsive to treatment frequently occurred.” (Nicholas Gotten, M.D., in the Journal of the American Medical Association, October 27, 1956).
  3. In their study concerning neck injury to women in auto accidents, the researchers concluded that in many cases the onset of disability didn’t occur for 2 to 69 days following their accident (Charles Schutt, M.D. and F. Curtis Dohan, M.D., Journal of the American Medical Association, December 16, 1968).
  4. “Soft tissue injuries of the Neck” reports that in accident cases where there are no obvious injuries, “a patient examined soon after injury may show free and painless neck motion, no local soreness and no muscle tightness. After a few hours some tender enlargement of over-stretched muscles is frequently noted together with tightness, spasm and limitation of neck motion. Patients with . . . moderate to severe injuries may still show tightness and soreness for weeks.”
    It also notes that the cervical curve should be determined because certain deviations of it from the norm indicate poor prognosis for recoveries . . . Finally, they summarize by saying that “Despite all methods of treatment there are patients . . . who develop degenerative disk changes in the years after injury.” (Mason Hohl, M.D., Clinical Orthopaedic and Related Research, June 1975)
  5. In a study by Mackintosh and Fleming in Cambridge, England, titled “Cardiac damage presenting late after road accidents,” the authors report on six cases of heart damage that only became apparent after the accident. They note that the heart damage showed up from two days to 17 years later. “As the patients were young or had unusual lesions, the damage could be attributed to the accident.” (Alan Mackintosh, Hugh Fleming, M.D., Thorax, 1981)
  6. In a study from July 1985, relating to mental injury rather than physical injury, the authors told about two patients who suffered delayed posttraumatic stress disorder resulting from car wrecks. In one “the onset of symptoms was delayed 4 months in Ms. A and 12 months in Ms. B.” (Yes, both patients were successfully treated.) (Allan Burstein, M.D., American Journal of Psychiatry, July 1985)
  7. Another study noted an individual whose “cervical disk herniation” didn’t appear until three weeks following the injury (Bennett Blumenkopf and William Bennett, “Delayed Presentation of Posttraumatic Cervical Disk Herniation,” AJNR, July/August 1986)
  8. Yet another study described the case of a 14 year old boy wearing a seat belt who sustained serious internal injury “without immediate symptoms or signs.” (AK Upadhyay, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, July 1989)
  9. One last study you should know about is from a 1991 textbook. The author first notes that “a paradox existed in that seemingly inconsequential trauma resulted in a clinical problem of extraordinarily lengthy duration.” He found that “Medical evaluation following the accident generally detected little by way of injury and treatment recommendations were minimal.
    However, with the passage of time, the physical symptoms worsened …” He cites two other study studies which showed that the onset of symptoms can easily be delayed from three to 48 hours following the accident. (Henry La Rocca, M.D., in The Adult Spine: Principles and Practice, 1991)