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‘Give physios a bigger role in assessing whiplash injuries’

12 January 2012 - 3:29pm

Physiotherapists should be the first port of call for assessing whiplash injuries, member Sammy Margo said in an interview this morning for Sky News.

File 104048She was responding to a report published today by the House of Commons transport committee which blamed the spiralling cost of motor premiums on insurers, solicitors and claims management companies encouraging people caught up in road traffic accidents to make personal injury claims.

Committee chair Louise Ellman said: ‘Many of these claims are for whiplash, an injury where diagnosis is often subjective and therefore very costly for insurers to challenge.’

Government figures show the number of road accident casualties has fallen by more than a quarter in six years, but personal injury claims have risen by more than two thirds.

The committee is calling for the compensation threshold for whiplash cases to be raised and, if the number of claims does not fall significantly, for the introduction of new legislation requiring tougher medical evidence on the injury and its impact on the claimant before compensation is paid.

Ms Margo (photo above right) told Frontline that ‘physiotherapists are the most optimally positioned profession’ to distinguish between genuine and false claims for whiplash.

‘Physiotherapists should be the first port of call if there are no underlying issues in assessing whiplash injuries. We are skilled in assessing patients and seeing when the signs and symptoms match,’ she said.

They could also help to reduce the cost of claims by treating patients before the injury becomes a chronic problem and by identifying the appropriate number of treatment sessions.

However, she said as a chartered physio in private practice, the protracted referral system meant that she tended to see patients with whiplash injuries at a later point than is ideal.

‘I would like to see more physiotherapists assessing patients at the outset,’ she said. 

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