Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Whiplash associated disorder in children attending the emergency department
  1. R Boyd1,
  2. R Massey2,
  3. L Duane3,
  4. D W Yates1
  1. 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Hope Hospital, Salford, UK
  2. 2Accident and Emergency Department, Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, Liverpool, UK
  3. 3Booth Hall Children's Hospital, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr R Boyd, Emergency Department, Lyell McEwin Hospital, Haydown Road, Elizabethvale, South Australia;


Aims: To determine the incidence, severity, and clinical course of whiplash associated disorder (WAD) in children aged 4–16 years involved as passengers in car crashes.

Methods: Prospective surveillance of all paediatric attendances to three English urban emergency departments after car crashes over an eight month period. An initial structured telephone interview at day 2 after the car crash was performed. This was followed by clinical review of symptomatic patients on day 5 after the crash using the Quebec Task Force criteria for outcome assessment, with subsequent clinical review at 14, 28, and 56 days or until earlier symptom resolution.

Results: 105 children were identified as having been involved in car crashes as passengers. Forty nine children (47%) experienced symptoms of a WAD. Twenty nine children developed symptoms within 24 hours with the remainder developing symptoms by 48 hours. Forty children experienced a WAD grade 1 and nine children suffered a WAD grade 2 injury. The mean duration of symptoms was 8.8 days (range 3–70, SD 10.7). WAD grade 2 symptoms lasted significantly longer than WAD grade 1 symptoms.

Conclusions: The incidence of WAD in children in this series was higher than in other studies. The clinical course was more favourable than that reported for adults.

  • paediatric
  • whiplash associated disorder
  • cervical spine
  • car crashes
  • passenger

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.