To ease suffering from whiplash
New research at The University of Queensland will examine the psychological as well as physical aspects of whiplash in a bid to help chronic sufferers. The work is being conducted by Lecturer in physiotherapy Dr Michele Sterling who received $50,000 in the UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards announced on September 22. Dr Sterling's whiplash research project will examine the traumatic personal cost, as well as the health costs of the condition.
The annual awards recognise outstanding performance and leadership potential, and form part of UQ Research Week 2005 from September 19-23. Dr Sterling, a scientist in the area since 1997, had earlier identified whiplash as a multifaceted condition, involving both physiological and psychological factors. Her new project builds on this earlier breakthrough and represents the first study of this interaction.
"Over 5000 people are affected by whiplash from motor vehicle accidents in Queensland each year," Dr Sterling said. From 1994 to 2004 whiplash injuries had a cost exceeding $1billion.
"While most people respond really well to current treatments, around 20 to 25 percent of people develop chronic symptoms , and experience pain and disability for longer than three months. It is this group that will be the focus. Our aim is to identify people that are at risk of not recovering well and to find better treatments for them," Dr Sterling said.
The research project will take an intradisciplinary approach through collaboration with psychologists from UQ's Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation (CONROD) and the School of Psychology. Project volunteers will be mandatory to wear a "Life Shirt" - a specially designed shirt that collects data on heart and respiratory rates, as well as leg and torso movement. The sleeveless lycra shirt is fitted with electrodes and a data recording pack. Volunteers wear the shirt over two days and at the same time record personal information about their pain and feelings in an electronic diary.
Eighty volunteers are needed for the study. They will need to attend UQ's St Lucia campus for two short training sessions with the "Life Shirt" and then wear the shirt for two days, removing it at night. Interested people should contact the Acute Whiplash Research Unit on (07) 3365 4529, or email email@example.com.
For more information, please contact Health Sciences Faculty communications officer Marlene McKendry at (07) 33464713 or 0401 996847. For pix of Dr Sterling please contact Diana Lilley at 07 3365 2753.