Is Multidisciplinary rehabilitation effective for Whiplash?

A New study of strong practical interest by an interdisciplinary team led by prominent Canadian chiropractic researcher David Cassidy, DC PhD, DrMedSci, addresses the question of whether multidisciplinary rehabilitation programs help recovery from whiplash. In their population-based study of all road traffic injuries in the Canadian province of Sasketchewan for two years from December 1997 they report ‘no’ – it actually delays recovery.
This study included the 6.021 claimants over two years who were adults and had whiplash indentified by answering yes to the question “did the accident cause neck or shoulder pain?”

Those attending the fitness/rehab programs were more likely to have various characteristics relevant to delay recovery e.g. a history of headaches, prior injury claim, greater pain intensity, less optimism about future recovery – but “all important differences were statistically adjusted in the multivariable analyses” that were made. It was found that the policy of providing fitness/rehab did not improve whiplash recovery – but prolonged it. Group fitness training slowed recovery by 19-32% depending upon when it was started, community-based multidisciplinary rehabilitation by 50%. Chronic whiplash patients receiving hospital-based multidisciplinary rehabilitation did not recover any faster than those receiving the usual individual primary care.

* Cassidy JD, Carroll LJ et al. (2007) Does Multidisciplinary Rehabilitation Benefit Whiplash Recovery? Results of a Population-Based Incidence Cohort Study, Spine, 21 (1):126-131).

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