Studies Detail the Severity of Crash on Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD)


June 27, 2013

Everyone has heard the term whiplash and understands the general meaning.  Whiplash is a non-scientific term that describes a category of injuries caused by sudden acceleration and extension of the neck followed by a rapid forward motion, often caused by rear-impact auto collisions.  Whiplash also may result from other incidents including falls and even bungee-jumping.  Whiplash symptoms include neck and back pain and tenderness, headaches, muscle spasms, jaw pain, ringing in the ears, and nausea.  The symptoms may last for a few days to several weeks to indefinitely.  These symptons may also indicate a much more severe condition.

Whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) is a grouping of injuries that may include the above-described symptoms found in individuals suffering from whiplash, as well as the following:

  • Anxiety;
  • Stress;
  • Depression;
  • Drug abuse;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder; and
  • Insomnia.

The increased severity of these symptoms indicates a neurological component to the disorder.  A special commission in Quebec, Canada has led to a classification of the severity of WAD injuries.  Specifically, the Quebec Task Force has created the following categories:

  • Grade 0 – no significant pain in the neck is noted – these patients typically do not present themselves for examination, so the condition is not recorded often;
  • Grade 1 – person complains of pain or tenderness of the neck, but an examining physician can find no physical signs of injury;
  • Grade 2 – person complains of pain or tenderness of the neck and examining physician finds decreased range of motion, point tenderness, and/or muscle spasms. Frequently, these patients have torn ligaments and bleeding;
  • Grade 3 – individual demonstrates decreased range of motion and absence of reflexes in conjunction with neurological symptoms; and
  • Grade 4 – individual complains of neck pain and has a fracture, dislocation, or other injury to the spinal cord.

A study out of Sweden entitled Influence of Crash Severity on Various Whiplash Injury Symptoms: A Study Based on Real-Life Rear-End Crashes with Recorded Crash Pulses by Kraftt, Kullgren, Malm, and Ydenius, has examined a series of car accidents in vehicles equipped with crash pulse recorders (CPR), which record acceleration time history in rear impact collisions.  The study was able to use this data to examine the impact severity as a measure of acceleration and change in velocity on the duration and degree of the resultant WAD, which basically means how fast the impacting vehicle was traveling and how the crash changed the acceleration of the impacted vehicle.  This quantifies the force of the impact experienced by the driver and front seat passengers in order to measure trends in experienced injuries. 

The study concludes:

  • The duration of WAD symptoms increase with greater acceleration and change of velocity, meaning that there was a greater likelihood of long-term injuries with rear impact collisions occurring at greater speeds.
  • There is a correlation between the higher impact rate of speed and the higher on the Quebec Task Force scale classifying degree of WAD in which the victim likely will fall.
  •  In accidents involving the same rate of speed and acceleration, women experience symptoms of WAD at a greater rate than men.

If you have suffered a rear-impact collision, make sure you know your legal rights, and that you get the compensation you deserve.

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Category: Auto Accidents

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