Human body finite element (FE) models are beginning to play a more prevalent role in the advancement of automotive safety. A methodology has been developed to evaluate neck response at multiple levels in a human body FE model during simulated automotive impacts. Three different impact scenarios were simulated: a frontal impact of a belted driver with airbag deployment, a frontal impact of a belted passenger without airbag deployment and an unbelted side impact sled test. Cross sections were created at each vertebral level of the cervical spine to calculate the force and moment contributions of different anatomical components of the neck. Adjacent level axial force ratios varied between 0.74 and 1.11 and adjacent level bending moment ratios between 0.55 and 1.15. The present technique is ideal for comparing neck forces and moments to existing injury threshold values, calculating injury criteria and for better understanding the biomechanical mechanisms of neck injury and load sharing during sub-injurious and injurious loading.
Keywords: biomechanics; cervical spine; cross section; finite element methods; injury; neck.