Ottawa Car Accident: The benefits of Decompression Therapy

The following article was kindly contributed by Dr. Joseph Lawrence, a certified non-surgical disc decompression practitioner.

Injuries secondary to motor vehicle accidents continue to plague modern society, despite technological advances in automobiles.  However, the way we deal with these injuries has seen some varying degree of advancement in the healthcare community.

In my opinion, one of the most significant advances in dealing with whiplash associated disorder injuries is the use of non-surgical disc decompression and the companion active therapeutic movement therapy.

Simply put, non-surgical disc decompression, utilizes long-axis traction to the spine.  However, before you jump to conclusions that your inversion table will do the same thing, the technique employs skill in determining patient positioning (ie. stomach, side or back), flexed or extended, time/force calculations and duration of treatment.  Like any tool, it is only as good as the operator.

Decompression therapy has shown tremendous results for whiplash patients, particularly for cervical (neck) pain complaints.  We have been referred the most difficult cases, and we find upwards of 90% of our cervical patients have been able to return to activities of daily living and pre-accident status.  There are two main reasons this may occur.  Firstly, unloading of the spine and hence the disc, promote healing in a very safe and painless fashion.  Secondly, long-axis traction to the spine delivered with this technique is very stimulating to, among other things, the cerebellum.  The cerebellum is generally involved in coordinating movement, balance and termination of eye movement.  Consequently, decompression therapy plays a pivotal role in rehabilitation.

As for muscle rehabilitation, there are a multitude of options for accident victims; however the use of active therapeutic movement is the one approach that is the most effective without excessive loading on the spine.

The remarkable thing about active therapeutic movement is that it takes literally 2 minutes to determine if an individual is a good candidate for care.  A test treatment is done, and ideal candidates will notice a significant decrease in pain and increase in range of motion on the spot.  However, extreme caution must be exercised with each and every patient.  Advanced examination will determine whether or not a patient can be fast-tracked to active therapeutic movement directly, or must undergo disc decompression therapy first.

We have had great success with this approach for patients with injury due to whiplash in particular.  One of the main reasons is it draws from the best of both passive and active forms of care.

Dr. Joseph Lawrence of Broadview Spine and Health Centre is a certified non-surgical disc decompression practitioner, introducing this form of care and active therapeutic movement to Eastern Ontario.  He is a board eligible  chiropractic neurologist. To learn more about Broadview Spine and Health Centre, visit

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