Whiplash injury analyzed with Thermography: The cervical injury that occurs in accidents

Whiplash injury analyzed with Thermography: The cervical injury that occurs in accidents

21/12/2023 Home

The applications of thermography in health can extend to legal medicine and expertise, in sectors such as the automotive industry that deals with issues like traffic accidents and their derived pathologies such as whiplash.

When we talk about thermography from ThermoHuman, we rely on the state of the art and scientific evidence to provide the greatest technical value to the sector we are addressing. In this case, legal medicine and the management of the injured.

To achieve this, we analyze the study by Lee Y.S. et al. 2015 where they investigated the cervical whiplash injury, a neck injury caused by abrupt movements forward and backward of the head, which mainly occur during car collisions.

Despite being observed in 40% of traffic accidents, the subjective nature of its painful experience poses challenges in diagnosis and medical clearance.

Methodology for analyzing whiplash.

The research aimed to objectively visualize neck and shoulder pain before and after cervical whiplash treatment using the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and infrared thermography (IR).

The study conducted IR thermography on 42 patients diagnosed with cervical whiplash injuries between March 2008 and December 2013. After two weeks of conservative treatment, IR thermography and VAS results were compared with the initial post-injury assessment.

Results showed initial hyperthermia in affected areas after the injury, gradually normalizing after two weeks. Thermal differences (ΔT and ΔdT) were statistically significant, indicating changes in skin surface temperature correlated with symptom improvement. VAS scores for neck and shoulder pain decreased significantly after conservative management.

This study suggests that thermography effectively quantifies symptoms of cervical whiplash injury diagnosed through magnetic resonance imaging. The correlation between thermal differences and back pain levels shows great potential as an objective assessment tool.


In summary, this study observed that skin temperature in areas affected by a cervical whiplash injury immediately showed hyperthermia but gradually decreased after two weeks, approaching normal temperature.

These changes correlated significantly with a reduction in the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) of pain. Manifestations of cervical whiplash injury are diverse, and some have no pathophysiological explanation. Although IR thermography seems to lack specificity and has limited benefits, it can be a valuable tool for evaluating these types of painful disorders by providing objective data on pain experience and improvement.


Lee, Y. S., Paeng, S. H., Farhadi, H. F., Lee, W. H., Kim, S. T., & Lee, K. S. (2015). The effectiveness of infrared thermography in patients with whiplash injuryJournal of Korean Neurosurgical Society57(4), 283-288.

Europa Thermohuman ThermoHuman has had the support of the Funds of the European Union and the Community of Madrid through the Operational Programme on Youth Employment. Likewise, ThermoHuman within the framework of the Export Initiation Program of ICEX NEXT, had the support of ICEX and the co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

CDTI Thermohuman has received funding from the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), in participation with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), for the R+D activities involved in creating a new tool, based on thermography, for the prediction and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. See project detail.