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  • Published on Monday June 20th, 2016


Whether due to a car or diving accident, whiplash is a common cause of injury. Whiplash is a general term for the transfer of acceleration-deceleration energy associated with the abrupt backwards or forwards movement of the neck. The impact can cause various injuries to bones, soft tissue and nerves. Such injuries can in turn result in a variety of clinical manifestations¹¯².

Clinical Presentation of Whiplash

(according to the Québec Task Force)

Grade 0

Patient does not complain of neck pain. No physical symptoms.

Grade 1

Patient complains of stiffness, pain or tenderness only. No physical signs.

Grade 2

Patient complains of stiffness, pain or tenderness. Musculoskeletal signs. (e.g., decreased range of motion, cervical tender points).

Grade 3

Patient complains of stiffness, pain or tenderness. Neurological signs. (e.g., decreased or absent reflexes, weakness, sensory deficits).

Grade 4

Patient complains of stiffness, pain or tenderness. Fracture or dislocation present.


How can a physiotherapist help?

The physiotherapist will start by conducting a detailed assessment, including: observations, range of motion and quality of movement analysis, neuromuscular tests, palpation, tests of cervical stability and muscle function, special tests. He or she will use this information to design an individualized treatment plan. The Québec Task Force has developed a 5-phase clinical management guide for patients suffering from whiplash¹:


(<4 days)


(4 days – 3 weeks)


(3 – 6 weeks)


(6 – 12 weeks)


(>12 weeks)

Education Pain management Manual therapy to increase mobility Exercises progressions Continue the treatment plan begun in Phase 4
Posture Muscular rehabilitation Exercise program Increase activity and participation in daily life Possible multidisciplinary approach
Pain management At-home activity program Pain management
Gentle mobilizations and guided movements Gradual activation
Gentle exercises

In addition to an increased range of motion and pain management, the comprehensive care provided by the professionals at Kinatex promotes a quick return to regular activities and prevention of the chronicity of symptoms.

Associated services


¹Advisor : Rebecca B tunnacliffe et al., PABC CEO, PABC Clinical Practice Guideline for Physiotherapie Treatment of Patients whit Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD), Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia, autumn 2005 : 1-23

²Rushton A, Wright C, Heneghan N, et al. Physiotherapy rehabilitation for whiplash associated disorder II : a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, BMJ Open 2011;1e000265. doi :10.1136 :1-13.