Content » Vol 37, Issue 4

Smooth pursuit neck torsion test in whiplash-associated disorders: relationship to self-reports of neck pain and disability, dizziness and anxiety

Julia Treleaven A1, Gwendolen Jull A1, Nancy Lowchoy A1
A1 From the Division of Physiotherapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
DOI: 10.1080/16501970410024299


Objective: The smooth pursuit neck torsion test is thought to be a measure of neck afferent influence on eye movement control and is useful in assessing subjects with whiplash, especially those complaining of dizziness. Nevertheless, it is not known whether impairments identified relate only to abnormal cervical afferentation or are influenced by levels of anxiety or neck pain. Design: A prospective, 3-group, observational design. Subjects: One hundred subjects with persistent whiplash (50 complaining of dizziness, 50 not complaining of dizziness) and 50 healthy controls. Methods: The smooth pursuit neck torsion test was performed and analysed taking into account subjects' reported levels of pain, anxiety and dizziness. Results: The results confirm that there are significant (p <0. 01) differences in the smooth pursuit neck torsion test between subjects with persistent whiplash both with dizziness (mean 0. 11) and without dizziness (mean 0. 07) compared with healthy control subjects (mean 0. 01). The results suggest that the test is not influenced by a patients' level of anxiety, but may be influenced by both nocioceptive and proprioceptive factors. Conclusion: The results provide further evidence of the usefulness of the smooth pursuit neck torsion test to identify eye movement disturbances in patients with whiplash, which are likely to be due to disturbed cervical afferentation.

Lay Abstract


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