Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck News

Measuring Recovery After Whiplash

Recovery after whiplash varies among patients with whiplash associated disorder (WAD). A good tool that can be used for patients across all studies is needed to measure results of treatment. Such a measurement device would make it possible to compare various kinds of treatment for all WAD patients (early or late, mild to severe).

In this study, researchers used a five-item version of the Core Outcome Measure (COM) with whiplash patients. The original seven-item COM was designed for use with low back pain patients. They called the adapted version the Core Whiplash Outcome Measure (CWOM).

In order to be useful, the CWOM must be able to measure short-term and long-term results for private insurance and primary care patients. The five items on the CWOM measured symptoms, function, well-being, and disability.

Three groups of patients were tested with the CWOM. All were adults with a whiplash injury caused by an accident. The first group of 99 patients had an acute whiplash. They were seen within the first six weeks of their injury.

The second group (250 patients) were insurance patients classified as early chronic whiplash. The third group were the late chronic whiplash. These 134 patients came for treatment three to 12 months after injury.

The results of this study show that the shorter CWOM is a good tool to use with various groups of whiplash patients. Although it's a good measure of physical health, it does not measure emotional status.

Statistical analysis of the CWOM showed that it is a responsive and valid measure of neck disability. It can be used to measure pain, physical, and social functioning for all WAD patients.


Trudy J. Rebbeck, MAppSc, et al. Evaluation of the Core Outcome Measure in Whiplash. In Spine. March 15, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 6. Pp. 696-702.

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