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77% of serious injuries are “invisible,” new research finds

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New research into injury incidents in the UK reveals that millions of Brits may be living with long-term conditions and serious injuries that are invisible to the naked eye.

The research into 1,000 adults across the UK, conducted by Fletchers Serious Injury, revealed that, of those who had suffered a serious injury in the past five years, more than three in four serious injuries sustained (77.1%) also carried long-lasting effects that could not be identified by sight alone.

Examples of this include chronic pain, psychological trauma and cognitive impairments.

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Over one in five (21.9%) of those who live with invisible injuries harboured concerns that others were less likely to understand their injury due to the effects not being immediately obvious.

Significantly, the research also found that the respondents may not understand the full implications of their own condition, with 19% also believing that invisible impairments such as chronic pain were not as serious as more visible injuries.

Concerningly, one in seven (14%) of those affected by invisible injuries reported that their condition had directly reduced their ability to seek out help or, in certain cases, directly made them avoid seeking out medical treatment (12.3%).

Younger respondents were particularly likely to put off treatment, with a staggering 40% of those aged 18-24 reporting having not sought treatment for an invisible injury.

Perhaps because of this lack of understanding, respondents reported an unwillingness to “open up” and share their struggle with those closest to them, with 6.5% reporting that they didn’t even feel able to talk about their condition with loved ones.

Invisible injuries also frequently affect the public in their day-to-day lives, with some even having faced discrimination due to the nature of their condition.

Of this group, 3.6% reported having been discriminated against in their workplace and, 4.9% in other areas of their day-to-day life, such as when claiming benefits related to their condition, meaning that many may be missing out on the financial support they need.

The elderly are particularly likely to live with chronic invisible conditions, with the likelihood of such invisible injuries being a major concern increasing in age throughout the sample. While slightly over half of those aged 25-34 were affected, long-term invisible conditions affect 85.6% of those over 65 years of age.

Adrian Denson, chief legal officer at Fletchers Serious Injury, said: “A catastrophic injury puts a great deal of strain on the people involved; from the victim themselves, to their family. People who experience injuries such as these very often suffer the ongoing repercussions; chronic pain, psychological trauma and the inevitable loss of earnings that arises during recovery time.”

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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