Do You Know or Do You Believe?

By Gary R. Wood, D.C., C.C.S.P.

"1 know what many, perhaps most of you believe. My presentation today is designed to expand what you know. What you believe is personal opinion, which may not conform to or be supported by the research Belief may rise to the level of prejudice. What you know is information which is consistent with and supported by reputable research"

These were my opening remarks as an invited presenter to the Colorado Springs Claims Adjusters Association 20 I0 Annual Seminar. My challenge was to present research demonstrating scientific understanding of motor vehicle crashes vs. belief. To my great surprise "belief" was on exhibit right at the beginning of my presentation. An attendee proclaimed, "Accident victims are only in it for the money". I was a bit taken back by this open declaration of what I can only imagine is a commonly held belief amongst claims adjusters.

The perceptions, as demonstrated by the above adjuster, stand in stark contrast to the large body of reputable literature available to anyone wishing to pursue a further understanding of motor vehicle crashes. Hoping to improve the level of awareness, I reviewed 35 research papers from the 246 papers reviewed at the 2009 SRISD Scientific Conference. The papers I presented covered diverse topics ranging from diagnostic imaging to the predictive value of delta v.

I thought it would be insightful to have a basic measure of the attendee's knowledge of motor vehicle crash related data. I asked the audience to take a 10 question quiz (Click Here to downlaod the quiz)To encourage participation, I offered the highest scorer, a $25.00 gift certificate to The Broadway Deli in Colorado Springs. The quiz results were illustrative. The highest score was 73%, a low C.

How can the duties of an adjuster be justly discharged in face of such a substantial lack of knowledge regarding motor vehicle crashes?

For much of my hour, I presented a synopsis of selected papers with titles such as:

Diffusion Tensor Imaging May Improve Diagnosis and Tracking of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries. My hope was to help bridge the gap between what research demonstrates, and the preconceived notions many adjusters have acquired over the years.


To conclude my presentation, I showed the above video clip of a live human subject low speed rear end crash test. I asked the attendees to write down their estimate of the crash forces stated as: delta v, closing speed, head acceleration. To encourage participation, I offered a $100.00 gift certificate to Marigolds Restaurant in Colorado Springs. The estimates were so wildly inaccurate that for a brief moment I considered not awarding the gift certificate. Ultimately the gift certificate was awarded to a woman adjuster who was reasonably accurate on the delta v and the closing speed, but estimated that the head acceleration was 20,000 g's. The apparent lack of understanding of crash dynamics is disheartening when one considers the life impacting decisions that are being made daily based on belief and limited knowledge.

The suffering and care of millions per year rests on adjusters' beliefs, when it should rest sound scientific research supported knowledge. The burden is on those in this field stay at the forefront of available literature, and then apply that knowledge when dealing with patients as individuals.

It was a privilege to be invited to share current research in the motor vehicle crash arena. It is my hope that my presentation encouraged adjusters to dispense their duties through knowledge, rather than preconceived beliefs.

Click Here to downlaod the quiz Click Here to download the answer sheet