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Accid Anal Prev. 2002 Sep;34(5):663-71.

Biomechanical analyses of whiplash injuries using an experimental model.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226, USA. yoga@mcw.edu

Abstract

Neck pain and headaches are the two most common symptoms of whiplash. The working hypothesis is that pain originates from excessive motions in the upper and lower cervical segments. The research design used an intact human cadaver head-neck complex as an experimental model. The intact head-neck preparation was fixed at the thoracic end with the head unconstrained. Retroreflective targets were placed on the mastoid process, anterior regions of the vertebral bodies, and lateral masses at every spinal level. Whiplash loading was delivered using a mini-sled pendulum device. A six-axis load cell and an accelerometer were attached to the inferior fixation of the specimen. High-speed video cameras were used to obtain the kinematics. During the initial stages of loading, a transient decoupling of the head occurs with respect to the neck exhibiting a lag of the cranium. The upper cervical spine-head undergoes local flexion concomitant with a lag of the head while the lower column is in local extension. This establishes a reverse curvature to the head-neck complex. With continuing application of whiplash loading, the inertia of the head catches up with the neck. Later, the entire head-neck complex is under an extension mode with a single extension curvature. The lower cervical facet joint kinematics demonstrates varying local compression and sliding. While the anterior- and posterior-most regions of the facet joint slide, the posterior-most region of the joint compresses more than the anterior-most region. These varying kinematics at the two ends of the facet joint result in a pinching mechanism. Excessive flexion of the posterior upper cervical regions can be correlated to headaches. The pinching mechanism of the facet joints can be correlated to neck pain. The kinematics of the soft tissue-related structures explain the mechanism of these common whiplash associated disorders.

PMID:
12214961
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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