Michael Faulkner's comment piece (22 May, Insurance Times) placed a major question mark against the use of physiotherapy in treating whiplash injuries.

Our view is that physiotherapy is a cost-effective treatment when used appropriately in a great number of whiplash claims.

By appropriate, we mean the following: as early as possible following a whiplash injury and for those types of neck-strain that would benefit from physiotherapy, and based on a finite number of treatments, as medical opinion suggests that physiotherapy is not beneficial beyond a small number of sessions.

As opposed to the traditional approach of treating neck-strain injuries with rest and inactivity, the body of evidence shows that in most cases the best treatment for the injured person is to exercise and remain mobile.

For various reasons, individuals don't always have the motivation or insight to drive their own recovery, which is why referral to physiotherapy is often a key factor in achieving this.

We have seen the benefits of physiotherapy in helping claimants to both kick-start and then actively pursue their own rehabilitation. We have also seen its resultant effect in minimising claims costs. However, the reason it works is, admittedly, unclear. To this effect, we support, and are engaging in, the current research initiatives by the ABI, the NHS and other insurers.

It is early days yet in understanding the scope of physiotherapy, but our figures indicate that whiplash claim costs can be reduced by an average amount of £300 per claim, after funding the treatment.

We have no reason to believe that money is being "thrown away" when our own experience shows the potential saving to be made when physiotherapy is used in the early stages of a whiplash claim.

It would be doing the claimant and the industry a disservice to hold back when the results are evident and seem to be pointing the way towards a more claimant-focused and collaborative process to handling bodily injury claims.

Morag Heighway
Rehabilitation manager
Norwich Union

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