Rear-impact neck whiplash: Role of head inertial properties and spine morphological variations on segmental rotations

[+] Author and Article Information
Jobin D. John

Department of Engineering Design, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India

Gurunathan Saravana Kumar

Department of Engineering Design, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India

Narayan Yoganandan

ASME Fellow, Center for NeuroTrauma Research, Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, USA

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4043666 History: Received September 26, 2018; Revised April 19, 2019


Whiplash injuries continue to be a concern in low-speed rear impact. This study was designed to investigate the role of variations in spine morphology and head inertia properties on cervical spine segmental rotation in rear-impact whiplash loading. Vertebral morphology is rarely considered as an input parameter in spine finite element models. A methodology towards considering morphological variations as input parameters and identifying the influential variations is presented in this paper. A cervical spine finite element model, with its morphology parametrized using mesh morphing, was used to study the influence of disc height, anteroposterior vertebral depth, and segmental size, as well as variations in head mass, moment of inertia, and center of mass locations. The influence of these variations on the characteristic S-curve formation in whiplash response was evaluated using the peak C2-C3 flexion marking the maximum S-curve formation and time taken for the formation of maximum S-curve. The peak C2-C3 flexion in the S-curve formation was most influenced by disc height and vertebral depth, followed by anteroposterior head center of mass location. The time to maximum S-curve was most influenced by the anteroposterior location of head center of mass and segmental size. The influence of gender-dependent variations, such as the vertebral depth, suggest that they contribute to the greater segmental rotations observed in females resulting in different S-curve formation from men.

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