Researchers say you shouldn’t mollycoddle whiplash sufferers

The days of mollycoddling whiplash sufferers may be coming to an end, based on new medical research that says there’s no benefit to long bouts of physiotherapy.

Acute whiplash sufferers shouldn’t be given anything more than a usual consultation, new research says. Additionally, persistent or chronic whiplash symptoms – the stuff of personal injury claims and days or even weeks of missed work – should only be treated with a single physiotherapy advice session, researchers say.

Active management consultations were proven to have no additional benefit to whiplash injury sufferers, medical researchers found, adding that while it was discovered to be an effective way in accelerating the recovery of neck and shoulder mobility – resulting in less absence from work – the long term benefits of physiotherapy including manual therapy and exercise was only of modest benefit in the long term, with the benefits being indistinguishable from a single session.

The research, which appeared in The Lancet, concluded that in a cost-to-benefit analysis, the NHS can simply not afford long-term treatment of whiplash injuries in such a manner. In fact, some whiplash sufferers may not even have a place in an A&E department, according to one medical researcher that took part in the study.

The University of Alberta’s Robert Ferrari, based in Edmonton, Canada, made the suggestion that staff in accident and emergency departments actually have no psychological or physical measures they can take that will enable them to mate the distinction between whiplash sufferers that will take months to recover versus those that will only take weeks or even just days. In fact, the researcher called into question whether implementing extensive therapy would even result in appreciable differences in recovery time without incurring unnecessary expense on the part of the NHS.

Ferrari went on to say that the goal is now to work for ways to change the expectation when it comes to someone suffering from a whiplash injury. Choosing to no longer prescribe treatments that have been proven to be ineffective and unnecessary could help in changing societal beliefs when it comes to those dealing with whiplash, the researcher added.

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