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ERIC Number: EJ860223
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Kinematics of a Head-Neck Model Simulating Whiplash
Colicchia, Giuseppe; Zollman, Dean; Wiesner, Hartmut; Sen, Ahmet Ilhan
Physics Teacher, v46 n2 p88-91 Feb 2008
A whiplash event is a relative motion between the head and torso that occurs in rear-end automobile collisions. In particular, the large inertia of the head results in a horizontal translation relative to the thorax. This paper describes a simulation of the motion of the head and neck during a rear-end (whiplash) collision. A head-neck model that qualitatively undergoes the same forces acting in whiplash and shows the same behavior is used to analyze the kinematics of both the head and the cervical spine and the resulting neck loads. The rapid acceleration during a whiplash event causes the extension and flexion of the cervical spine, which in turn can cause dislocated vertebrae, torn ligaments, intervertebral disc herniation, and other trauma that appear to be the likely causes of subsequent painful headache or neck pain symptoms. Thus, whiplash provides a connection between the dynamics of the human body and physics. Its treatment can enliven the usual teaching in kinematics, and both theoretical and experimental approaches provide an interesting biological context to teach introductory principles of mechanics.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A