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Whiplash Recovery Faster with Individual Care

What's the best treatment for whiplash injury? Is there any benefit to attending a fitness group over having individual therapy? Canadian researchers compared two group of patients with whiplash injuries to answer these questions.

The Canadian Government Insurance has a no-fault policy with rehab benefits for patients with traffic injuries. Multidisciplinary treatment teams of healthcare professionals provide rehab. Group fitness training is offered at local health clubs. Outpatient rehab is available at private clinics. Hospital inpatient rehab is a third option.

Individual care is also funded. The patient can see a physician, physical therapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist for whiplash injury. The treatment and methods offered in these programs varied in content, frequency, and length. The authors described each group and listed which healthcare professionals were on each team.

Recovery was measured by self-report using a computer-assisted telephone interview. Each patient was contacted at six, 12, 24, 36, and 52 weeks after their injury. Areas assessed included pain and other symptoms, disability, exercise levels, and activity limitations. Quality of life and work status were also included.

The authors report there was no evidence that patients attending the fitness or rehab programs were helped in their recovery. Complete recovery was defined as feeling cured or at least much improved. It could be that the rehab programs were started too late. Or perhaps there was too much variation from program to program to show a difference.

The results of this study need to be confirmed in future follow-up research. For now, individual care is recommended over whiplash rehab or group programs.


J. David Cassidy, PhD, DrMedSc, et al. Does Multidisciplinary Rehabilitation Benefit Whiplash Recovery? In Spine. January 1, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 1. Pp. 126-131.

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