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Are there different levels of severity in whiplash injuries?

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2021 | Injuries

Motor vehicle collisions – including those involving pedestrians and bicyclists – often result in soft tissue trauma that can dramatically impact many facets of the victim’s life. From chronic pain that could affect sleeping patterns to cognitive impairment that could affect job performance, it is crucial that those injured in a collision seek immediate medical treatment.

While the term whiplash simply refers to the rapid acceleration-deceleration motion of the impact, the phrase Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) refers to the injuries themselves. Based on numerous factors, the WAD can fall into four categories, including:

  • Grade 1: After a collision, the victim might experience neck pain, stiffness and tenderness to the touch. There is no direct physical damage, though, and the pain is resolved through treatment and the natural healing process.
  • Grade 2: The victim experiences pain and stiffness in the neck and muscles of the upper back. In this case, though, a medical exam reveals various musculoskeletal signs of damage. This damage can include a decreased range of motion as well as point tenderness.
  • Grade 3: In addition to musculoskeletal signs of WAD, the patient could also exhibit neurologic signs. These signs can include sensory impairment, muscle weakness and decreased deep tendon reflexes.
  • Grade 4: Not only does the victim experience musculoskeletal and neurologic signs of damage, medical professionals might also detect a cervical fracture.

People often discount the severity of whiplash injuries due to their treatment in popular entertainment. Unfortunately, victims can struggle with numerous types of impairment and cognitive challenges for months or years after a violent motor vehicle collision. It is wise to seek a comprehensive medical exam no matter the type of collision.