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December 16, 1968

Neck Injury to Women in Auto Accidents: A Metropolitan Plague

Author Affiliations

From the Health Services, Radio Corporation of America, Woodbridge, NJ (Dr. Schutt), and the William Pepper Laboratory of Clinical Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Dr. Dohan).

JAMA. 1968;206(12):2689-2692. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150120023004

Disabling neck injuries to women in auto accidents are common in metropolitan regions, 6.7/1,000 women year. Near Newark, NJ, the rate was 14.5/1,000/year, half occurring from rear-end collisions. Absence from work averaged eight weeks. Delayed onset was not associated with longer absence. Symptoms continued more than six months in about 75% of those without, as well as with pending litigation. These and other data do not support the opinion that prolonged symptoms are commonly due to litigation neurosis or malingering. Reports of electroencephalographic abnormalities in a high proportion of humans and animals with whiplash injury plus damage to the sympathetic and cerebrospinal nervous systems and rupture of stabilizing ligaments indicate possible organic bases for "neurosis." Proper headrests prevent whiplash injury to humans. Federal regulations require headrests in automobiles made after Dec 31, 1968.