This study presents results from x-ray analysis of live human head/neck motion in sled test simulations of low-speed frontal, lateral, and rear-end vehicle impacts. The test subjects were 26 male and female adults, aged 22 to 61 years. Head/neck motion and the kinematic responses of each test subject were measured and analyzed by cineradiograph, high-speed film, accelerometers, and electromyography of the neck muscles.
The methodology used may provide insight into the mechanism of neck injuries caused by the head inertia loading. The actual kinematic responses of the head/neck were found to be more complex than previously thought. The experimental results suggest that the most significant factor of the head/neck response is the initial curvature of the cervical and thoracic spine. Looking specifically at the early motion of the head and neck in rear-end impacts, the cervical forward curvature (lordosis) and the thoracic rearward curvature (kyphosis) were found to straighten. In the leaning-forward or stooped-shoulder posture, the cervical spine was affected by compression load resulting from upward movement of the upper thoracic spine, and it appears that the cervical spine length was shortened. In all tests, the flexion and extension motions measured were never beyoned the physiological range.