Fifteen fresh, intact, human male cadavers suspended head down were dropped vertically from a height of 0.9- 1.5 meters. In eight specimens the heads were restrained to simulate muscle forces. The head-neck complex was oriented for maximal axial loading of the cervical and upper thoracic spine. In several cadavers, load cells were placed in cervical bodies. Head impact forces of 3,000-7,000 N in the unrestrained, and 9,800-14,600 N in the restrained, cadavers were recorded. There were more cervical and upper thoracic fractures in the restrained cadavers than in the nonrestrained subjects. The biomechanic and pathologic findings, including results of cryomicrotomography and computed tomography (CT), are discussed.
Keywords: biomechanics; cervical spine trauma; cryomicrotome; skull fracture