The objective of the present study was to analyze the localized kinematic biodynamics of the human head-neck complex under impact loading. Unembalmed human cadaveric head-neck complexes were subjected to axial compressive forces delivered using an electrohydraulic testing device. The head-neck complex was aligned along the stiffest-axis; musculature was simulated using preloaded springs and cables; and retroreflective targets were inserted into the vertebral body, the facet joint articulation, and the spinous process at every level of the cervical column. At dynamic loading rates (1.8-5.1 m/min), mid to lower cervical spine injuries consistently occurred in these preparations. Continuous motion analysis of the components (vertebral body, intervertebral disk, facet joint, and the spinous process) at all levels of the cervical spine showed the temporal order of the transfer of the external load. Injuries documented by computed tomography and cryomicrotomy techniques correlated with the kinematics of the structure. The application of dynamic loading to the head-neck complex coupled with high-speed, continuous-motion analysis of the intervertebral components of the entire cervical column makes possible the definition of the temporal kinematic mechanics that are fundamental to the understanding of the biodynamics of cervical spine trauma. Using these procedures, we have correlated the kinematics with the onset and pattern of neck injury secondary to impact forces.
Keywords: Biodynamics; Cervical spine; Dynamic loads; Head-neck complex; Injuries; Temporal kinematic analysis