Work Alteration

Rating

Category: Allied Health Options

Injury Type: Acute

What is it?

Work alteration relates to changes made to the working environment and/or arrangements, which may have an impact on symptoms and recovery after whiplash. Sometimes this may include work ergonomics, the science of arranging the working environment to fit the person in it. Using ergonomic principles may help to reduce stress and other disorders caused by overuse of muscles, bad posture and repeated tasks.

How does it work?

Applying ergonomic principles at work such as designing new tasks, modifying work spaces, controls, displays, tools, lighting and equipment to fit the worker’s capabilities and limitations may help to avoid new or aggravate existing injuries or disorders.

Is it effective?

There is currently no scientific evidence on the use of work alteration for whiplash disorders. A recent synthesis of evidence focusing on 'non-specific' neck pain found that computer software programs which prompted workers to take regular breaks did not change the frequency or intensity of neck pain in workers. On the other hand the software programs did improve work productivity and make workers more likely to report positively on their injury. It must be noted that this synthesis was not peer reviewed, as per routine process, and hence its findings should be considered with some caution.

Are there any disadvantages?

None known.

Where do you get it?

Work alteration using ergonomic principles can be provided in isolation or as part of other rehabilitation treatments. Ergonomists' are specialists in this field and they can be found in your local Yellow Pages. Other health care practitioners such as Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists may also provide work ergonomic treatments as part of overall rehabilitation. Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists can be found in the Yellow Pages and online via their professional organisations.

Recommendations

Due to the absence of rigorous high quality scientific evidence, work alteration cannot be recommended for whiplash. More research is needed in this area.

Key References

  • 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
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