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October 01, 2010

Side effects of QTF

In 1995, Canadian insurers sponsored a study to assess the effects and severity of whiplash injuries in Canada.  The effort was called Quebec Taskforce on Whiplash Related Disorders (QTF), and was produced by a number of prominent researchers and authorities.  The study was later published by the prestigious journal, Spine.  These researchers were challenged to evaluate the relevant literature produced to date and produce a general assessment of the status and effects of whiplash.  The study, while initially generating a lot of buzz, has since been thoroughly discredited and is now regarded as deeply flawed and biased by many.  The reasons for this are many: When a study is sponsored by an insurer (an interested party= bias) the outcome is immediately suspect.  It was claimed that a large part of this bias manifested in the phase of the study where they excluded various studies, that in retrospect was counter the eventual final conclusions of QTF.  One of the conclusions was that most whiplash injuries heal within 6-12 weeks.  While that may be true for some, but certainly not all, it is also a handy argument ("I'm sorry Ma'am, research has proven that injuries such as yours heal within......, so we do not believe that you are actually hurt") for insurance companies both in court and when talking to injured insured parties, it is not true for a staggering number of real life whiplash victim. What's worse: For some people (and we seem them regularly in our offices, in Scandinavia I believe) are people who did not feel the effects of the injury immediately after, received no treatment and end up with headaches, numbness in the arms, memory and fatigue problems and dizziness years after.  X-rays may reveal loss of lordsis (normal neck curve) and extensive degenerative changes in the mid and/or lower neck, dating the injury back 5-15 years - right around the time of that accident where "nothing happened".
Thanks to extensive and relevant critique, QTF is no longer taken seriously by informed professionals, but could still be abused by unscrupulous parties elsewhere, say in Scandinavia, where the knowledge and experience about whiplash injuries is still in its infancy.