CSP launches new whiplash guidelines

The Society's professional adviser Dawn Wheeler explains why new clinical guidelines will be a boon for physiotherapists treating people with whiplash

If you see people with whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) then the new CSP-endorsed clinical guidelines will be an invaluable tool for you. Developed by physiotherapists for physiotherapists, the main aim of the guidelines is to provide a framework for clinical practice. They have gone through a rigorous endorsement process, and make recommendations based on the best available research evidence, supported by expert consensus. The new document demonstrates how physiotherapy can be effective in the management of patients with whiplash injuries and is a valuable resource for doctors, patients, managers and other professionals. The development of these guidelines was identified by members as one of their top three priorities, and the project built on previous work carried out in Yorkshire. WAD is a common injury, with a range of signs and symptoms. The guidelines will help clinicians address the complex challenges often presented when treating people with WAD. They provide:
  • a valuable tool for clinical practice
  • evidence of the effectiveness of physiotherapy interventions
  • a valuable tool for reviewing services
The guidelines follow the patient journey from diagnosis to outcome and apply to people (aged 16 and over) who have had a whiplash injury to their neck. The document covers physiotherapy assessment and associated issues, such as prognosis and psychosocial barriers to recovery and suggests relevant outcomes measures. It provides recommendations for practice and covers the acute stage (up to two weeks after injury), the sub-acute stage (two to 12 weeks after injury) and the chronic stage (more than 12 weeks after injury). There are treatment recommendations, based on the available research evidence and expert consensus, for each of these stages. Other sections include patient empowerment and self-efficacy, education and advice and legal issues. Professional development is supported by the inclusion of a reflective practice tool in the guidelines. Recommendations for research are provided for those wishing to undertake research and to support applications for funding for research. They are intended to be of use to a range of people including:
  • people with WAD
  • other professionals involved in the treatment   of WAD
  • medico-legal practitioners/professionals
  • educators
  • researchers
The guidelines will help individual physiotherapists and services to demonstrate clinical effectiveness in treating people with WAD and the commitment of physiotherapists in enabling patients to take an active role in their treatment. Discussing the guidelines recommendations with your peers will help you with your clinical decision making. Anne Jackson, CSP guidelines project manager, said: 'The whole team are delighted to see the first CSP-commissioned clinical guidelines published. We hope they will be an invaluable tool to physiotherapists, other healthcare professionals and people with WAD in applying the most up to date knowledge to managing this common condition that may be challenging to manage.' Two supporting documents will also be developed - a quick reference guide to serve as a memory aid while treating patients and an audit pack to help individuals and departments evaluate the treatment offered and identify areas that can be improved. Clinical guidelines for the physiotherapy management of WAD is now available. Cost: GBP15 members, GBP25 non-members, GBP50 commercial organisations

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