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Neck News

Atypical Neck Motion After Whiplash

It's easy to see that patients with chronic whiplash have less motion than normal, healthy adults. But when does normal neck motion become abnormal? What are the cut off limits? And what is a typical profile for whiplash injured patient? In this study physical therapists try to define typical and unusual or "atypical" neck (cervical) motion in patients with chronic whiplash (CW).

Six cervical motions were measured in 101 patients with CW. The results were compared to 75 healthy adults. The CW patients had much less overall motion. The researchers were unable to find a cut off point between CW patients and healthy subjects.

Atypical patients had very little (less than 10 degrees) of motion in any direction. The results also showed a greater decrease in motion in men and older adults in both groups compared to women and younger adults. Patients with atypical motion had extreme personality and functional changes.

Fear of pain or reinjury may keep CW patients from moving the head to the end range of motion. The authors suggest a complete behavioral test for anyone with atypical motion. This is needed before the best treatment can be decided.


Tamara Prushansky et al. Performance of Cervical Motion in Chronic Whiplash Patients and Healthy Subjects. In Spine. January 1, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 1. Pp. 37-43.

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