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J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2016 Oct;46(10):874-885.

Whiplash Injury or Concussion? A Possible Biomechanical Explanation for Concussion Symptoms in Some Individuals Following a Rear-End Collision.


Study Design Finite element modeling of experimental data. Background The clinical presentations of whiplash injury and concussion have considerable overlap. Both diagnoses are generally based on presenting signs and symptoms, and a history of neck or head trauma. With incomplete knowledge of the trauma, differentiating between whiplash injury and concussion can be clinically challenging. Objectives To estimate the brain strains that develop during rear-end car crashes, evaluate how these strains vary with different head kinematic parameters, and compare these strains to those generated during potentially concussive football helmet impacts. Methods Head kinematic data were analyzed from 2 prior studies, one that focused on head restraint impacts in rear-end crash tests and another that focused on football helmet impacts. These data were used as inputs to a finite element model of the human brain. Brain strains were calculated and compared to different peak kinematic parameters and between the 2 impact conditions. Results Brain strains correlated best with the head's angular velocity change for both impact conditions. The 4 crashes with head angular velocity changes greater than 30 rad/s (greater than 1719°/s) generated the highest brain stains. One crash, in which the head wrapped onto the top of the head restraint, generated brain strains similar to a 9.3-m/s rear football helmet impact, a level previously associated with concussion. Conclusion This work provides new insight into a potential biomechanical link between whiplash injury and concussion, and advances our understanding of how head restraint interaction during a rear-end crash may cause an injury more typically associated with sports-related head impacts. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2016;46(10):874-885. doi:10.2519/jospt.2016.7049.


brain; car crash; cervical spine; finite element model; football

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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