Title

Anterior longitudinal ligament injuries in whiplash may lead to cervical instability

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

7-1-2006

Journal

Medical Engineering and Physics

Volume

28

Issue

6

DOI

10.1016/j.medengphy.2005.09.011

Keywords

Biomechanics; Computer model; Finite element; Longitudinal ligament; Whiplash

Abstract

Although whiplash injuries account for a significant annual cost to society, the exact mechanism of injury and affected tissues remain unknown. Previous investigations documented injuries to the cervical anterior longitudinal ligament in whiplash. The present investigation implemented a comprehensively validated computational model to quantify level-dependent distraction magnitudes of this structure in whiplash. Maximum ligament distractions approached failure levels, particularly in middle to lower cervical levels, and occurred during the initial phase of head-neck kinematics. In particular, the C5-C6 anterior longitudinal ligament sustained distraction magnitudes as high as 2.6 mm during the retraction phase, corresponding to 56% of distraction necessary to result in ligament failure. Present results demonstrated that anterior structures in the lower cervical spine may be susceptible to injury through excess distraction during the retraction phase of whiplash, which likely occurs prior to head restraint contact. Susceptibility of these structures is likely due to non-physiologic loading placed on the cervical spinal column as the head translates posteriorly relative to the thorax. Injury to anterior spinal structures can result in clinical indications including cervical instability in extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending modes. Mitigation of whiplash injury may be achieved by minimizing head retraction during initial stages of whiplash. © 2005 IPEM.

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