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REDUCED HEAD STEADINESS IN WHIPLASH COMPARED WITH NON- TRAUMATIC NECK PAIN

Objective: While sensorimotor alterations have been observed in patients with neck pain, it is uncertain whether such changes distinguish whiplash-associated disorders from chronic neck pain without trauma. The aim of this study was to investigate head steadiness during isometric neck flexion in subjects with chronic whiplash-associated disorders (WAD), those with chronic non-traumatic neck pain and healthy subjects. Associations with fatigue and ef- fects of pain and dizziness were also investigated. Methods: Head steadiness in terms of head motion velocity was compared in subjects with whiplash (n = 59), non-traumatic neck pain (n = 57) and healthy controls (n = 57) during 2 40-s isometric neck flexion tests; a high load test and a low load test. Increased velocity was expected to reflect decreased head steadiness. Results: The whiplash group showed significantly decreased head steadiness in the low load task compared with the other 2 groups. The difference was explained largely by severe levels of neck pain and dizziness. No group differences in head steadiness were found in the high load task. Conclusion: Reduced head steadiness during an isometric holding test was observed in a group of patients with whip- lash-associated disorders. Decreased head steadiness was related to severe pain and dizziness. Key words: whiplash; isometric hold; head steadiness; neck pain; dizziness. J Rehabil Med 2010; 42: 35–41 Correspondence address: Astrid Woodhouse, Department of Public Health & General Practice, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), NO-7489 Trondheim, Norway. E-mail: astrid.woodhouse@ ntnu.no Submitted December 12, 2008; accepted October 7, 2009


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