There are an estimated 10,000 severe cervical spinal cord injuries and fatalities in the U.S. annually of which about half are attributed to auto accidents. Sports injuries including diving accidents account for about one quarter of them. Severe neck injuries seldom occur without head impact. Hyperextension and hyperflexion injuries which are usually not incapacitating are the most numerous.
The mechanisms of the common types of neck injury are described. Protection of the neck is difficult as helmets provide essentially no neck protection. The three point harness is the most effective protection against neck injury.