Title

Reflex muscle contraction in the unaware occupant in whiplash injury

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

12-1-2005

Journal

Spine

Volume

30

Issue

24

DOI

10.1097/01.brs.0000192178.46869.42

Keywords

Biomechanics; Cervical spine; Finite element; Muscle contraction; Parametric study; Whiplash

Abstract

Study Design. Computer modeling and parametric analysis were used to determine the effect of reflex contraction of the neck muscles in the unaware occupant in whiplash. Objective. To delineate effects of reflex contraction on spinal segmental kinematics during the retraction phase. Summary of Background Data. The ability of reflex neck muscle contraction to mitigate whiplash injury in the unaware occupant remains unclear. Analyzing relative timing between electromyographic and head-neck kinematics, previous investigators theorized that muscle contraction alters spinal kinematics, decreasing injury likelihood. Other investigators suggested that injury occurs during the initial (retraction) phase of head-neck kinematics, before significant muscle force generation. Methods. Computer modeling was used to determine reflex contraction effects on segmental angulations, implementing parametric analysis techniques to vary reflex delay and impact severity. Results. Shorter reflex delays had a greater effect on segmental angulations later in the event and at lower impact severities. However, the magnitude of this effect, particularly at higher impact severities and during maximum cervical S-curvature (factors implicated in the whiplash injury mechanism) was minimal, altering segmental angulations by a maximum of 19%. Conclusions. Because reflex contraction did not substantially alter spinal kinematics, muscle contraction likely does not initiate in sufficient time to mitigate whiplash injuries that may occur during the retraction phase. ©2005, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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