Key to avoiding whiplash injury may lie in head restraint positioning

December 11, 2006

The study by Brian Stemper, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery, resulted in the most comprehensively validated computer model for whiplash reported in scientific literature.

"The practical aspect of this study is that you want to set your head restraint so that it's very close to the back of your head. Each time drivers and passengers get in a car, they should be sure the head restraint is correctly positioned to minimize injuries," Dr. Stemper suggests.

His work is published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention and data from the report has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation for possible use in determining safety rules for car manufacturers.

Whiplash injuries affect the soft tissues of the cervical spine (e.g., ligaments and intervertebral discs) and can be sustained in any type of crash but occur most often in low speed rear-end collisions. The injury affects more than one million people in the U.S. each year and results in symptoms of neck pain, headaches and lower back soreness. A high percentage of all patients sustaining whiplash injury report long-term pain. A 1999 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that 26 percent of rear-struck vehicle drivers reported neck injuries.

Dr. Stemper has investigated cervical spine ligament stretch during whiplash by comparing increasing distances between the back of the head and the head restraint. He has developed a mathematical computer model of the head and cervical spine that can be studied under simulated rear-end collision conditions. The model provides quantifiable data on soft tissue distortions in humans.

"The process involved moving the head restraint to different positions to look at spinal ligament distortion and see how it changed with each of these configurations," he says. "Ligament distortions were compared to previously determined failure thresholds. Our team also used previous studies and computer models to validate our work. In addition, we studied the computer response in 57 different measures of spinal motion. This data was compared to previous experimental research to be sure they were realistic."

"We found that auto head restraints positioned less than 2.4 inches (6 cm) from the back of the head kept ligament stretch within the physiologic range - meaning that no injury would occur. However, as the restraint distance increased beyond 2.4 inches, the ligaments began to exceed failure thresholds, meaning that whiplash injury was more likely to occur," says Dr. Stemper.
-end-
Co researchers with Dr. Stemper on the study are Narayan Yoganandan, Ph.D., and Frank A. Pintar, Ph.D., professors of neurosurgery.

Medical College of Wisconsin

Related Data Articles from Brightsurf:

Keep the data coming
A continuous data supply ensures data-intensive simulations can run at maximum speed.

Astronomers are bulging with data
For the first time, over 250 million stars in our galaxy's bulge have been surveyed in near-ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared light, opening the door for astronomers to reexamine key questions about the Milky Way's formation and history.

Novel method for measuring spatial dependencies turns less data into more data
Researcher makes 'little data' act big through, the application of mathematical techniques normally used for time-series, to spatial processes.

Ups and downs in COVID-19 data may be caused by data reporting practices
As data accumulates on COVID-19 cases and deaths, researchers have observed patterns of peaks and valleys that repeat on a near-weekly basis.

Data centers use less energy than you think
Using the most detailed model to date of global data center energy use, researchers found that massive efficiency gains by data centers have kept energy use roughly flat over the past decade.

Storing data in music
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a technique for embedding data in music and transmitting it to a smartphone.

Life data economics: calling for new models to assess the value of human data
After the collapse of the blockchain bubble a number of research organisations are developing platforms to enable individual ownership of life data and establish the data valuation and pricing models.

Geoscience data group urges all scientific disciplines to make data open and accessible
Institutions, science funders, data repositories, publishers, researchers and scientific societies from all scientific disciplines must work together to ensure all scientific data are easy to find, access and use, according to a new commentary in Nature by members of the Enabling FAIR Data Steering Committee.

Democratizing data science
MIT researchers are hoping to advance the democratization of data science with a new tool for nonstatisticians that automatically generates models for analyzing raw data.

Getting the most out of atmospheric data analysis
An international team including researchers from Kanazawa University used a new approach to analyze an atmospheric data set spanning 18 years for the investigation of new-particle formation.

Read More: Data News and Data Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.