Study: Many Seniors Have Persistent Pain After Car Crashes

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the Clinical Pain Advisor take:

Older adults are facing more than just pain after a motor vehicle crash -- their quality of life suffers, too. 

Published in Annals of Emergency Medicine, a new study revealed that many seniors remain in pain for months after a motor vehicle crash. This in return affects their quality of life, including the ability to live independently. The report reviewed older auto accident victims treated in emergency departments. 

“The types of injuries that younger people recover from relatively quickly seem to put many seniors into a negative spiral of pain and disability,” said lead study author Timothy Platts-Mills, MD, MSc of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, in a press release.  “Older adults are an important subgroup of individuals injured by motor vehicle crashes and their numbers are expected to double over the next two decades.  Safe and effective management of acute pain in older adults is challenging and once pain becomes persistent, it has profound negative consequences for function and quality of life.”

Researchers found that 72% reported moderate to severe pain at the time of the emergency department evaluation. Six months later, 26 percent were still reporting moderate to severe motor vehicle crash-related pain.

Nearly 75% of patients patients with persistent moderate to severe pain had experienced a decline in their physical function and 23 percent had experienced a change in living situation. 

Another interesting fact: More than half (54%) at six months were still taking some type of pain reliever, and approximately 10% had become new daily users of opioid pain relievers.

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Car crashes are the second most common form of trauma among older adults.

The researchers say car crashes are the second most common form of trauma among older adults.

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