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Man Ther. 2008 Jun;13(3):183-91. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Standing balance: a comparison between idiopathic and whiplash-induced neck pain.

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Division of Physiotherapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, 4072 Queensland, Australia.


Disturbances of balance have been found both in patients with whiplash-associated disorders and idiopathic neck pain. This study directly compared balance between these groups to determine if neck pain precipitated by trauma resulted in greater or different balance impairments. The study was a comparative, observational design. Thirty subjects with whiplash, 30 with idiopathic neck pain and 30 healthy controls, took part in the study. Subjects performed balance tests in comfortable, narrow and tandem stances. Balance disturbances (sway energy and/or root mean squared (RMS) amplitude) were evident in several tests between subjects with neck pain and controls. Direct comparison between the neck pain groups revealed that the whiplash group had significantly greater sway energy and RMS amplitude than the idiopathic group in comfortable stance tests on a soft surface (F > 4.4, p < 0.04). Further, the whiplash group had greater RMS, but significantly less sway energy than the idiopathic group in most narrow stance tests in the anterior posterior direction F > 5.8, p < 0.02). Both neck pain groups were also significantly less able to complete the eyes closed, tandem test compared to control subjects. In conclusion, the study has found that balance deficits exist in both subjects with whiplash-associated disorders and idiopathic neck pain compared to controls; however, differences in balance strategies may exist between the neck pain groups. Overall, subjects who have experienced trauma appear to have greater balance disturbances.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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