A team of experts in McMaster University’s Faculty of Heath Sciences has published a comprehensive ebook on a common injury that can require treatment by a wide scope of health professionals.

The publication, Whiplash Injury and Chronic Pain: The Anatomy and Current Interdisciplinary Approaches to Management, offers a fulsome understanding of how to effectively manage a patient’s care following a potential injury.

The publication was led by Harsha Shanthanna, associate professor and associate chair of research of the Department of Anesthesia; Anita Gross, associate clinical professor of the School of Rehabilitation Science, and Bruce Wainman, professor of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and director of the Education Program in Anatomy.

“Whiplash injury, which is extraordinarily common and creates significant costs for the health-care system, is an interprofessional issue because everyone from family doctors to those working in rehabilitation science are treating patients,” said Wainman. “The problem is that there has been fragmented information available on diagnosis and treatment.”

Injuries causing whiplash-associated disorder, a spectrum of clinical manifestations resulting from the injury, represent a major health problem. The onset of pain and other symptoms may occur immediately or may be delayed. A substantial majority of patients progress to continuing symptoms of pain, inability to function and loss of work, with or without associated psychological complications like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The case-based ebook includes provocative questions and summarizes information in an easy-to-understand format that is directly applicable to clinical practice. The resource is intended for medical students and learners, primary care physicians, pain physicians, physiatrists, physical therapists and health providers involved the management of whiplash patients.

Gross said she is working to incorporate the resource into her teaching at McMaster.

“One of my goals in rehabilitation science is to allow a student in our program to see, from simple to complex, the integration of care,” said Gross. “This book allows our students to view treatments that specialists and physicians perform; these are procedures that they don’t necessarily see in class. The rehab student addresses treatment related to maximizing function and may be less aware of other advanced specialized procedural options performed by physicians.”

The authors say another advantage of the digital publication is that its format allows for easy updating.

“The huge piece here is the ability to update the ebook as information changes,” Gross said. “The evidence-based part, such as the measurement tools to be used, continue to evolve so at some point we’ll need to update it.”

Among the other McMaster contributors to the project was the late Jeff Ennis, assistant clinical professor in the department of medicine. The project also had seed funding and continued support from Norm Buckley, professor of anesthesia. Illustrations and design were by Caitlin O'Connell, multimedia developer with the Education Program in Anatomy.

Wainman added: “It’s a beautiful example of the style of health sciences at McMaster, because the idea is that every piece of work is as evidence-based as possible. The whole basis of problem-based learning is that you have good cases that build upon one another, and this has case after case. Of course, this is presented in an accessible, engaging format.” 

Whiplash Injury and Chronic Pain: The Anatomy and Current Interdisciplinary Approaches to Management is available at no cost on Apple Books here.

A version for Kindle will be released soon.