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The effectiveness of aerobic versus strengthening exercise therapy in individuals with chronic whiplash-associated disorder: a randomised single case experimental design study [with consumer summary]
de Zoete RMJ, Nikles J, Coombes JS, Onghena P, Sterling M
Disability and Rehabilitation 2022 Sep 29:Epub ahead of print
clinical trial
6/10 [Eligibility criteria: No; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: No; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: No; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

PURPOSE: Recent RCTs and meta-analyses compare the effectiveness of different types of exercise for chronic whiplash associated disorder (WAD). This study aimed to verify whether the results of these studies translate to statistically significant and clinically meaningful effects in individual participants. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A series of replicated randomised single case experimental design studies (SCEDs) with A-B design (A: baseline, B: intervention). Eight participants with chronic WAD (8 female, mean (SD) age 47 (10) years) were randomised into one of four baseline durations (5, 8, 11, and 14 days) and to one of two eight-week exercise interventions (aerobic or strengthening). Daily measures of pain intensity, bothersomeness, and interference were collected during the baseline phase and the intervention phase. RESULTS: Visual analyses indicated that three participants in the aerobic exercise group meaningfully improved. No improvements were found in the strengthening group. Effect sizes favoured the aerobic exercise group, yet randomisation tests of pooled effects did not show a difference in between-intervention effectiveness. CONCLUSION: Contrary to our expectations, three out of four participants were nearly pain-free at the end of the aerobic exercise intervention, whereas none of the participants in the strengthening group improved meaningfully. This suggests that aerobic exercise may be favourable for WAD.

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