Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1998 (Sep); 79 (9): 1089–1094
Heikkila HV, Wenngren BI
Department of Psychiatry,
University Hospital of Northern Sweden, Umea
OBJECTIVE: To investigate cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility, active range of cervical motion, and oculomotor function in patients with whiplash injury.
DESIGN: A 2-year review of consecutive patients admitted to the emergency unit after whiplash injury. SETTING: An otorhinolaryngology department.
PATIENTS AND SUBJECTS: Twenty-seven consecutive patients with diagnosed whiplash injury (14 men and 13 women, mean age, 33.8yrs [range, 18 to 66yrs]). The controls were healthy subjects without a history of whiplash injury.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Oculomotor function was tested at 2 months and at 2 years after whiplash injury. The ability to appreciate both movement and head position was studied. Active range of cervical motion was measured. Subjective intensity of neck pain and major medical symptoms were recorded.
RESULTS: Active head repositioning was significantly less precise in the whiplash subjects than in the control group. Failures in oculomotor functions were observed in 62% of subjects. Significant correlations occurred between smooth pursuit tests and active cervical range of motion. Correlations also were established between the oculomotor test and the kinesthetic sensibility test.
CONCLUSION: The results suggest that restricted cervical movements and changes in the quality of proprioceptive information from the cervical spine region affect voluntary eye movements. A flexion/extension injury to the neck may result in dysfunction of the proprioceptive system. Oculomotor dysfunction after neck trauma might be related to cervical afferent input disturbances.