The female part of the population suffers more Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) in car crashes than males. Several studies have illustrated the need to consider the female population when developing and assessing the WAD prevention performance of advanced restraint systems in rear-end collisions. Presently only one crash test dummy is available, the average sized male BioRID. Recently a virtual dummy model of an average female, EvaRID, was developed and used in rear impact simulations. The results stressed the need for models representing the female part of the population, as well. Virtual crash simulations have become essential in traffic safety and with models of both an average male and female, further steps in addressing improved assessment of WAD prevention can be taken. The present paper presents a starting point of research aiming to develop an open-source average female Finite Element (FE) model with an anatomically detailed cervical spine. This paper provides a review of the literature to identify gender specific neck biomechanics and anatomical differences, followed by a review of published FE models of the cervical spine.
Data on vertebral body dimensions (height, width, depth, spinal canal diameter, facet joint angles) have been compiled from biomechanical literature. Significant gender differences exist for the vertebral body depth and width, the spinal curvature in the seated posture, and the spinal stiffness and range of motion. All have the potential to influence the outcome of an impact and should be accounted for in the development of WAD prevention.
The review of FE models of the cervical spine presented 17 models based on male geometry but only one model scaled to represent a female. An overview of the models are given with respect to the solver, geometry source, number of elements, and implementation of the facet joints, ligaments, and muscles. It is recommended that an average female model is developed with focus on; 1) the shape of the female vertebral body, especially the depth and width that provides less support area than for males, 2) defining the spinal curvature representative of seated female volunteers who generally display less lordosis than males, 3) the dimensions of the spinal ligaments, rather than the material properties, to capture the larger range of motion and less spinal stiffness of female subjects compared to males, and 4) validation to female volunteers and PMHS tests for range of motion, while failure prediction seem less gender sensitive.