In-vivo Kinematics of the Cervical Spine in Frontal Sled Tests

  •  Christoph Dehner    
  •  Sylvia Schick    
  •  Wolfram Hell    
  •  Peter Richter    
  •  Michael Kraus    
  •  Michael Kramer    


The description of cervical spine motion and the risk to sustain a cervical spine injury in traffic accidents is mainly based on rear-end collisions. The knowledge about frontal collisions is comparable low. Therefore the objective of this exploratory study was, to describe the in-vivo cervical spine motion and acceleration during simulated frontal sled collisions and to identify sequences of motion in which the risk of injury is increased.

A frontal collision with a speed change of 10.2km/h was simulated in a sled test with ten volunteers. Cervical spine kinematics was assessed by the simultaneous analysis of the angular head motion and acceleration as well as the simultaneous analysis of the relative motion and acceleration between the head and the first thoracic vertebral body.

The motion sequence was divided into five phases. The combination of peak values of the angular head acceleration to ventral and the relative horizontal head acceleration to dorsal between the time period of 90ms and 110ms (early flexion phase) included – potential injury generating – shear forces. Although a hyperflexion (late rebound phase) as injury pattern didn’t occur, dorsal soft tissue injuries due to eccentric muscle-sprain could not be ruled out completely.

In conclusion the study showed under simulated test conditions that during the early flexion phase and the late rebound phase, acceleration and movement pattern occur that could lead to cervical spine injuries.

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