Clinical and epidemiological studies have frequently reported that female occupants sustain whiplash injuries more often than males. The current study was based on the hypothesis that segmental level-by-level cervical intervertebral motions in females are greater than in males during rear impact. The hypothesis was tested by subjecting 10 intact human cadaver head–neck complexes (five males, five females) to rear impact loading. Intervertebral kinematics were analyzed as a function of spinal level at the time of maximum cervical S-curve, which occurred during the loading phase. Segmental angles were significantly greater (p<0.05) in female specimens at C2–C3, C4–C5, C5–C6, and C6–C7 levels. Because greater angulations are associated with stretch in the innervated components of the cervical spinal column, these findings may offer a biomechanical explanation for the higher incidence of whiplash-related complaints in female patients secondary to rear impact acceleration.
Keywords: Cervical spine; Rear-impact; Biomechanics; Injury