Cervical spine response in frontal crash

Med Eng Phys. 2011 Nov;33(9):1147-59. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2011.05.004. Epub 2011 Jun 14.


Predicting neck response and injury resulting from motor vehicle accidents is essential to improving occupant protection. A detailed human cervical spine finite element model has been developed, with material properties and geometry determined a priori of any validation, for the evaluation of global kinematics and tissue-level response. Model validation was based on flexion/extension response at the segment level, tension response of the whole ligamentous cervical spine, head kinematic response from volunteer frontal impacts, and soft tissue response from cadaveric whole cervical spine frontal impacts. The validation responses were rated as 0.79, assessed using advanced cross-correlation analysis, indicating the model exhibits good biofidelity. The model was then used to evaluate soft tissue response in frontal impact scenarios ranging from 8G to 22G in severity. Disc strains were highest in the C4-C5-C6 segments, and ligament strains were greatest in the ISL and LF ligaments. Both ligament and disc fiber strain levels exceeded the failure tolerances in the 22G case, in agreement with existing data. This study demonstrated that a cervical spine model can be developed at the tissue level and provide accurate biofidelic kinematic and local tissue response, leading to injury prediction in automotive crash scenarios.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Aged
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiopathology
  • Finite Element Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Ligaments
  • Male
  • Whiplash Injuries / pathology
  • Whiplash Injuries / physiopathology