Time Off Work

Rating

Category: Medical Options

Injury Type: Acute

What is it?

Whiplash and the ensuing shock and subsequent symptoms means that some people may need time off from work to recover. Time off from work is usually prescribed by a medical doctor upon consultation with the person suffering from whiplash.

How does it work?

It is thought that time off from work, especially in the early stages of whiplash, provides a person with whiplash the time and space required to recover from the accident without any additional pressures or stresses from work and/or other professional duties.

Is it effective?

It is widely acknowledged that staying active and maintaining an active lifestyle, within pain limits, is important following whiplash. In one study conducted in Norway, a group of people suffering from whiplash were advised to wear a collar for 14 days and to have time off work for 14 days. While this group of people did improve over a period of six months, people who stayed active and continued their normal life after whiplash responded much better in comparison. It is thought that people who don’t move (within pain limits) and have time off work may focus more attention on the accident and their symptoms, which may result in worries about long-lasting problems.

Are there any disadvantages?

It is thought that having time off work may place the focus on the accident and injuries, rather than on recovery and healing, thus delaying recovery.

Where do you get it?

Time off from work can only be prescribed by a registered health professional, usually a medical doctor.

Recommendations

Based on available evidence, time off work is not recommended as a treatment for whiplash injuries, especially in the long term. On the contrary, there is strong evidence supporting return to work as soon as possible following whiplash. The decision of having time off from work should be made by the health professional (a doctor) in consultation with the person with whiplash.

Key References

  • Borchgrevink, GE, Kaasa, A, McDonagh, D, Stiles, T, Haraldseth, O & Lerein, I 1998, 'Acute Treatment of Whiplash Neck Sprain Injuries: A Randomized Trial of Treatment During the First 14 Days After a Car Accident', Spine, vol. 1, no. 23, pp. 25-31.
  • Hurwitz, E, Carragee, E, Van der Velde, G, Carroll, L Nordin, M, Guzman, J, Peloso, P, Holm, L, Coˆte, P, Hogg-Johnson, S, Cassidy, D, & Haldeman, S 2008, 'Treatment of neck pain: noninvasive interventions, results of the bone and joint decade 2000–2010 task force on neck pain and its associated disorders', European Spine Journal, vol. 17, no 1, pp. 123-152.
  • Mercer, C, Jackson, A & Moore, A 2007, 'Developing clinical guidelines for the physiotherapy management of whiplash associated disorder (WAD)', International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, vol.10, no. 2-3, pp. 50-54.
  • Yadla, S, Ratliff, J & Harrop, J 2008, 'Whiplash: diagnosis, treatment, and associated injuries', Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, vol. 1, pp. 65-68.
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