Whiplash motion of the neck is characterized by having an extension-flexion motion of the neck. It has been previously assumed that muscles do not play a role in the injury. Eight healthy males were seated in a car seat mounted on a sled. The sled was accelerated by a spring mechanism. Muscle electromyographic (EMG) activity was measured by wire electrodes in semispinalis capitis, splenius capitis, and levator scapulae. Surface EMG activity was measured over trapezius and sternocleidomastoideus. Wavelet analysis was used to establish the onset of muscle activity with respect to sled movement. Shorter reaction times were found to be as low as 13.2 ms from head acceleration and 65.6 ms from sled acceleration. Thus the muscles could influence the injury pattern. It is of interest that clinical symptoms are often attributed to muscle tendon injuries.
Keywords: Whiplash; Muscle activity; Electromyography; Acceleration