High power laser therapy treatment compared to simple segmental physical rehabilitation in whiplash injuries (1° and 2° grade of the Quebec Task Force classification) involving muscles and ligaments

Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. 2013 Jul 9;3(2):106-11. doi: 10.11138/mltj/2013.3.2.106. Print 2013 Apr.


Introduction: whiplash is a frequent post traumatic pathology caused by muscle, tendon and capsular elements over stretching. The authors conducted a short term prospective randomised study to test the effectiveness of a multi wave High Power Laser Therapy (HPLT) versus conventional simple segmental physical rehabilitation (PT) included in Italian tariff nomenclature performance physiotherapy Study Design: prospective randomised study (Level II).

Material and methods: the authors identified 135 homogeneous patients with whiplash grade 1 - 2 of the Quebec Task Force classification (QTFC). INAIL, the Italian National Workers Insurance, based in Milan, was reliable source for identifying patients. All patients with whiplash injuries grade 1 or 2 QTFC, were eligible for the study, starting from April 28 2010 to September 30 2010. Patients referred to a Coordinator (C.M.) who applied the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Patients who agreed to participate were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups. Dates for initial treatment session were arranged, including cervical spine X-ray, and assessment. Each patient gave informed consent for participation and agreed to adopt only the study treatment for 6 weeks. Group A (84 patients) was treated with High Power Laser Therapy (HPLT), Group B (51 patients) received conventional simple segmental physical rehabilitation (PT). During the treatment period, no other electro-medical therapy, analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs were allowed. All patients were assessed at baseline (T0) and at the end of the treatment period (T1) using a Visual Analogical Scale (VAS), (T2) the date of return to work was registered afterwards.

Results: there was a reduction in VAS pain scores at T1. Group A (VAS = 20) Group B (VAS = 34,8) (p =0.0048). Laser treatment allowed quick recovery and return to work (T2). Group A after 48 days against 66 days of Group B (p=0.0005).

Conclusions: results suggest that High Power Laser Therapy - is an effective treatment in patients with whiplash injury, compared to conventional simple segmental physical rehabilitation.

Keywords: laser therapy; neck rehabilitation; whiplash.