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The effect of neck coordination training

The effect of neck coordination training on sensorimotor function, symptoms and self-rated health and functioning for non-specific neck-shoulder pain

Many different types of treatment methods exist for chronic neck-shoulder pain. However, there is a lack of high quality studies to evaluate most of these methods. The aim of the study is to evaluate a new method to train the movement control of the neck. The new method is compared to strength training as well as to massage treatment in a randomized controlled study. At the same time, associations between self-rated function, symptom and psychological factors and the outcome of the treatments will be investigated.

Chronic neck pain is one of the most common causes for reporting sick in Sweden. Unfortunately, research on the treatment has been neglected so knowledge on how to treat the disorder is rather limited. Thus, there is a great need to develop and evaluate new treatment methods.

Research on chronic neck pain has shown that sensorimotor functions, i.e., functions that control the muscle activity and the co-ordination of movements, are of importance for the emergence of the disorder, and a wide range of changes in sensorimotor functions have been identified in neck pain patients. Thus, exercises aiming at improving sensorimotor functioning might be an effective treatment of chronic neck pain. Also, the information above illustrates that treatments ought to be evaluated with specific objective measures on sensorimotor functions and with ratings on the ability to perform daily activities that involve the neck-shoulder-arm. The lack of such objective outcome variables in evaluating studies is surprising.

In parallel with developing treatment, we have developed a comprehensive test battery for objective assessment of sensorimotor functioning.

Current project is a controlled study to evaluate three different kinds of treatments. Ninety females with chronic neck pain was randomised to 3 groups; training control of the neck muscles, strength training, and massage respectively. The subjects are evaluated with sensorimotor function tests and with questionnaires for health, functioning and symptoms. Evaluation was taken place after a 11-week treatment period and at 6- and 12 month follow-ups. The study is expected to give important knowledge for the rehabilitation of individuals with chronic neck pain.

Responsible researcher

Martin Björklund


Alfta Research Foundation; Region Gävleborg; Umeå University, Dept. Community Medicine and Rehabilitation (Gunnevi Sundelin, Charlotte Häger-Ross); University of Maryland, USA, Dept. Kinesiology (John Jeka).

External financing:
Forskningsrådet för Arbetsliv och Socialvetenskap (FAS, dnr. 2006-1162)[M1] , 1.5 milj kr; Länsförsäkringsbolagens Forskningsfond (P3/06)[M2] , 260 000 kr


at CBF:
Mats Djupsjöbacka, Birgitta Wiitavaara, Thomas Rudolfsson
Published by: Zara Lindahl Page responsible: Magnus Isaksson Updated: 2015-04-02
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)