The most common question asked of us here at the Melbourne Whiplash Centre is: “How can you help me?” Our simple answer to this question is, “Once we have performed our detailed two hour evaluation, we will know whether you are a suitable candidate for our program, or not”.

Here are the answers to some of the most common queries we receive. If the information you are seeking is not here, please contact us.


What should I do if I have just had a car accident?

If you have recently suffered a motor vehicle accident, there is a defined ‘acute management protocol’ that should be followed to minimise the risk of symptom exacerbation. We recommend you contact our centre on: (03) 9131 0712 to see one of our staff who have advanced skills in the assessment and treatment of Acute Whiplash.

However, if the pain is severe, we recommend you consult your local doctor for an initial examination and appropriate diagnostic testing prior to your assessment at The Melbourne Whiplash Centre.

The latest evidence suggests 50% of people following Whiplash will have ongoing symptoms past 3 months. If this is the case then neck strengthening becomes an important component to the road back to full recovery. The staff at the Melbourne Whiplash Centre will design a specific and personalise neck rehabilitation program based on your assessment findings. To find out more, call now to talk to one of our experienced Whiplash practitioners (read supporting article)
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What exactly is Whiplash?

Traditionally, the commonly used term “Whiplash” describes an injury to the neck whereby it has sustained a sudden acceleration then deceleration force – the head is “whipped” back and forth on the neck. The latest research on whiplash indicates that typically in a rear end collision the body moves forward rapidly leaving the head behind. This causes a “shearing” motion in the neck that can lead to both bony and soft tissue injuries. It is most common in motor car accidents, especially rear end collisions, but there are many other causes such as sporting accidents or blows to the head.
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What type of symptoms do you see after a Whiplash injury?

The symptoms associated with whiplash can vary, and may include headaches, neck or arm pain, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, inability to concentrate, blurred vision, or a feeling that the head has to be supported (what we call “heavy head syndrome”).
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Will a Whiplash injury show up on x-ray?

Often the damage caused by a Whiplash injury will not show up on standard medical tests such as x-ray, CT or MRI scans. One of the most difficult problems to identify is weakness in the muscles supporting the neck – weakness cannot be identified by these tests, but may cause chronic problems for many years.
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Is it the weakness that causes many of these problems?

The majority of patients entering our facility are suffering from weakened neck muscles. The trauma resulted in pain, the pain results in dysfunction, i.e. it hurts so you stop using your neck properly and the muscles weaken over time. What we have found is that as we strengthen patient’s neck muscles, many symptoms are resolved or settle considerably. Pain medication can be reduced, and many activities can be resumed.
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Why strengthen the neck?

Strengthening has been used previously with other joints such as the lower back, the knees, ankles and shoulders, but we are now able to strengthen the neck muscles. It is common sense – if your muscles are too weak, strengthening them can only improve your function.
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How can I tell if I have neck weakness?

One of the most common symptoms of someone suffering from weak neck muscles is a heavy head. What we call, ‘Heavy Head Syndrome’. People suffering from this syndrome have an excellent success rate with our program. So if your neck feels heavy or if you struggle to hold it up at times, then call us now (03 – 9583 0333) and let us help you.
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How does the Multi-Cervical Unit identify the problem?

An assessment involves 2 one-hour sessions with a fully qualified Physiotherapist on the Multi-Cervical Unit. The assessment involves the accurate measurement of neck movement and strength, and investigates how this condition affects the patient’s daily life. These measures are compared to so-called “normal” values, and a treatment program is customized for the patient. Each patient will receive a comprehensive computer-generated report detailing the results of their assessment.
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How does the treatment work?

Each treatment program is specifically designed according to the results of the assessment. The core of the program generally involves 3 x 30 minute strengthening sessions per week, with a qualified therapist on the Multi-Cervical Unit. The program is designed to strengthen the muscles of the neck, and the patient is re-assessed after each three-week phase to measure progress. Other treatments may be prescribed as required. The average treatment phase is 6 – 9 weeks, depending upon the nature of the problem.
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How does the patient tell if it is working?

At the end of every 9 treatment sessions, the patient will be re-assessed, and their results again compared to “normal” values, and the values obtained in the initial assessment. When the results of testing match the expected values, the patient is discharged, and at this point many of our clients experience significant reduction in their symptoms.
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Won’t the neck become painful again once the program is stopped?

No. As the neck muscles becomes stronger and less symptomatic, patients will begin to do more. As they start to do more housework, resume playing sport, or lifting the kids their neck muscles will be getting a “mini-workout”. We are returning the neck muscles to normal strength levels – normal activity should maintain this. Our follow up research suggests that at 6 months and at 2 years our patients maintain their improvements in strength and state they are still significantly better than when they commenced our program.
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Is this a conventional method of treatment?

Yes. Throughout the program you will be under the supervision of a physiotherapist or trained team member, who has had specific training on the Multi-Cervical Unit. Strengthening has long been considered an essential part of rehabilitation for many other parts of the body – it is only now that we have the technology to accurately assess and treat the neck in this way.

Our Director, Physiotherapist Robert De Nardis actually helped design the technology and is the International trainer of the neck machine. He has trained all his staff at the Melbourne Whiplash Centre in the use of this technology.
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What does the assessment offer?

A detailed two hour assessment at our Centre provides you with a comprehensive functional report of your neck. The Multi-Cervical Unit objectively assesses the strength and range of motion of your neck. Further, our sophisticated computer analysis compares your results to expected values.
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How is this different to other tests?

Tests such as X-Rays or MRI involve a static analysis of your neck bones and tissues. The Multi-Cervical Unit offers a dynamic functional assessment – never before has it been possible to accurately define where the weakness is in your neck. Muscle weakness and imbalance leads to pain and dysfunction. We can define this and correct for this.
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How effective is the program?

Our research indicates that a stronger neck leads to increased mobility and function with a reduction in pain and symptoms. Many patients attending our facility feel significant improvement after only 6 to 9 weeks of treatment.
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Do I need a referral to be assessed?

No, not if you are paying for your assessment privately. If your treatment is covered by Workers Compensation or a Third Party, bring your insurance details with you including your claim number and your clinican will apply for funding as appropriate.
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Can I claim for treatment with my Private Health Cover?

Yes, the assessment and treatment are billed as physiotherapy consultations, so you may claim these privately.
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What can I do now?

Contact us on (03) 9131 0712 to make a booking to obtain a detailed, objective functional assessment of your neck.
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Research Links

The Hanoun Multi Cervical Unit

This article summarises the history of the Multi Cervical Unit, including the development of The Melbourne Protocol, research showing the benefits of the program and details the program itself

A Twelve-Item Symptom Intensity Rating Scale for Cervical Spine Dysfunction

This study showed the Symptom Intensity Rating Scale (used as part of the assessment/re-assessment at the Melbourne Whiplash Centre) is a reliable tool

Predicting Short-Term Response and Non-Response to Neck Strengthening Exercise for Chronic Neck Pain

This study showed characteristics of a responder on the Multi Cervical Unit (as used at the Melbourne Whiplash Centre) which is useful when designing and implementing a rehab program

The Effect of Neck-specific Exercise With, or Without a Behavioral Approach, on Pain, Disability, and Self-Efficacy in Chronic Whiplash-associated Disorders

This study showed benefits of 12 weeks of physiotherapist-led neck specific exercise in those with chronic Whiplash Associated Disorder

Neck-specific exercise may reduce radiating pain and signs of neuro

This study showed benefits of 12 weeks of neck-specific exercise on the arm symptoms and neurological signs in those with chronic Whiplash Associated Disorder

Practical Management of Whiplash: A Guide For Patients

A useful guideline in Question/Answer format covering common questions asked following the early stages of a Whiplash Injury

Neck-specific exercise improves impaired interactions between ventral neck muscles in chronic whiplash: A randomized controlled ultrasound study

This study showed the benefits of 3 months of neck-specific exercises in neck muscle interactions and pain reduction in those with chronic Whiplash Associated Disorder

Effects of Neck-Specific Exercises Compared to Waiting List for Individuals With Chronic Whiplash-Associated Disorders: A Prospective, Randomized Controlled Study

This study showed significant improvements in terms of neck disability and quality of life in those with chronic Whiplash Associated Disorder through 3 months of neck-specific exercise

Active Neck Muscle Training in the Treatment of Chronic Neck Pain in Women A Randomized Controlled Trial’

This study showed significant improvements in terms of neck pain and disability in those performing 12 months of strength and endurance neck specific exercise in those with chronic non-specific neck pain

Evaluation of cervical range of motion and isometric strength: reliability and validity

The Multi-Cervical Unit has been found to be reliable and valid for testing the cervical active range of motion and isometric neck muscle strength for both normal and patient subjects.



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