A GROUNDBREAKING new way of testing for whiplash developed by an Aylesbury physiotherapist could save the insurance industry hundreds of millions of pounds and bring down the price of premiums it has been claimed.
Elite athlete physio Don Gatherer, who has worked with international sports stars and had his own practice in the town for more than 40 years, has helped develop new computer software which could help weed out the real pains in the neck.
Current methods of checking for whiplash injuries only require those allegedly suffering to convince their doctor they are in pain.
This has led to a big rise in fake compensation claims against insurance companies.
But with Mr Gatherer’s new way of working it is, he says, possible to accurately judge the extent of someone’s injury and measure the amount of physical load their neck is able to take.
He said: “If we can identify the problem we can identify the extent or the non-extent of it.
“This is the first time anyone has done an objective analysis of these types of injuries. Everything done previously has been subjective.”
Mr Gatherer’s software allows patients to undergo a series of computer tests to check the nature of an injury.
He is then able to identify real injuries and take the victim through a recovery programme.
A full analysis of an injury takes one and a half hours, but identifying fakes he believes would cut the insurance industry’s current £2 billion annual whiplash bill.
Mr Gatherer said: “If you can save 20 per cent of that it would be huge.”
He says he is now talking to members of the insurance industry to see if the technology can be used more widely
Aside from preventing fraudulent claims, Mr Gatherer hopes the software will mean those really suffering from whiplash get the correct treatment.
A spokesman ‘for the Association of British insurers said: “Britain’s thriving whiplash industry is now pushing up the cost of the average motor insurance policy by a staggering 20% Despite a fall in the number of car crashes, whiplash claims have risen by a third in the last three years.”