Whiplash - WAD


Whiplash is the collective name for complaints that may arise after the head has made a sudden violent movement. This can be a movement forward, to the rear, and / or to the side. An acceleration-deceleration mechanism occurs. That is, energy transfer to the neck, causing the neck and the head to make an unexpected pendulum motion. It may be the result of head-to-tail or side impact with a motor vehicle. It can also be caused by diving or other accidents as contact sports or a fall.


Whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) is widely regarded as a soft tissue injury of the neck with symptoms such as neck pain and stiffness, headaches, cognitive and psychiatric disorders, dizziness, visual symptoms, paresthesia (sensation disorders), and weakness. Other terms include post whiplash syndrome or neck sprain.


The text in the next paragraph is the translation of a transcript of a video by Blausen.


The spine consists of 33 vertebrae. There are five types of vertebrae: four vertebrae of the so-called 'coccyx' that constitute the tail bone, five sacral vertebrae that constitute the sacral bone, 5 lumbar (lumbar) vertebrae, 12 thoracic (chest) vertebrae and seven cervical (neck) vertebrae . The vertebrae provide stability to the torso.

The bones of the spinal column also serve as a protection for the spinal cord and the smaller nerves that branch out from there to the different body parts. The vertebrae are connected to each other by strong bands of tissue, the ligaments. The vertebrae are connected to the surrounding muscles by tendons.


In case of acute whiplash the 7 cervical vertebrae are damaged. Whiplash is often the result of car accidents in which the head is moved with great vehemence back and forward by the force of a rear impact.

This causes cracks in the muscles, tendons and / or ligaments of the neck. There may also be a pinched nerve between two vertebrae. This causes pain or numbness that may radiate to the shoulder, arm or hand.


Depending on the severity of the injury a whiplash can be treated in various ways, such as immobilization of the neck with a cervical collar or medicinal treatment and exercises. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.


Whiplash Associated Disorders - WAD

In 1995, the Quebec Task Force made a theoretical classification of whiplash trauma:

  • Grade 0: no neck pain, no physical abnormalities
  • Grade 1: complaints of neck pain, stiffness and tenderness, without physical abnormalities
  • Grade 2: neck pain and neuromuscular disorders
  • Grade 3: neck pain and neurological disorders
  • Grade 4: neck pain to fracture (fracture) or dislocation (vertebrae being pushed away or ligament injury)

This article contains a critical evaluation on this classification.


The following symptoms may occur after a whiplash:


These complaints provide cognitive symptoms such as difficulty following (phone) conversations, delayed reaction, lack of overview, poor reading or problems comprehending a story.


Fight between insurers and the person with whiplash

Whiplash has the problem that there is no demonstrable brain damage. The combination of cognitive problems with the increasing emotional stress caused by this fight can lead to problems.


After a whiplash people may experience a disturbed sleep-wake rhythm and sleep problems. Sometimes a person is sleeping too much or cannot sleep because of the pain or tinnitus.


Some websites with more information:




Americanbrainfoundation (including info about research)


Some websites about legal help:

Whiplash compensation in Ireland

Your legal friend on Whiplash claims

Consumer justice foundation



Below you can dowload some PDFs about Whiplash.

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Whiplash Injuries
PDF – 1,1 MB 1207 downloads
Evidence for brain injury in whiplash injuries
PDF – 1,1 MB 1118 downloads
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