Classifying whiplash associated disorder (WAD) severity

The guidelines for managing acute whiplash-associated disorders recommend classifying the whiplash injury to indicate severity.

The Quebec Task Force Classification of Grades of Whiplash Associated Disorders is shown in the table below (A4, page 18 guidelines).

Symptoms and disorders that can manifest in all grades include deafness, dizziness, tinnitus, headache, memory loss, dysphagia and temporomandibular joint pain.

Below is a copy of that classification system.

Grade Classification
0 No complaint about the neck.
No physical sign(s).
I Complaint of neck pain, stiffness or tenderness only.
No physical sign(s).
II Neck complaint AND musculoskeletal sign(s).
Musculoskeletal signs include decreased range of movement and point tenderness.
III Neck complaint AND neurological sign(s).
Neurological signs include decreased or absent tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits.
IV Neck complaint AND fracture or dislocation.

Spitzer, W.O., Scientific monograph of the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-Associated Disorders: Redefining ‘whiplash’ and its management. Spine, 1995. 20: p. 1-73.