What is Whiplash

Rear-end motor vehicle collision Whiplash is a common term for sudden acceleration-deceleration forces on the neck as a result of rear-end or side impact motor vehicle collisions, diving accidents and/or other mishaps.

These forces may result in bony or soft tissue injuries such as discs, ligaments, tendons, neck muscles, and nerve roots.

Other terms:

  • Neck strain
  • Acceleration flexion-extension neck injury
  • Soft tissue cervical hyperextension injury

What is WAD (Whiplash Associated Disorder)?

WAD is a term used to describe a range of symptoms resulting from whiplash. These can vary from no symptoms to severe.

WAD injuries are usually graded on a severity scale between 0-4.

Grade 0 No pain or discomfort. No physical signs of injury.
Grade 1 Neck pain, stiffness or tenderness. No physical signs of injury.
Grade 2 Neck pain, stiffness or tenderness and some physical signs of injury such as point tenderness or trouble turning the head.
Grade 3 Pain, stiffness or tenderness and neurological signs of injury, such as changes to reflexes or weakness in the arms.
Grade 4 Pain and fracture or dislocation of the neck.


(Quebec Task Force Classification of Grades of WAD)

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