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  • Writer's pictureDr Josh Bonine DC

Occupant Factors Influence Injury

Occupant Factors Influence Injury

In a recent article by Stemper, Pintar, and Rao (2011), the authors reviewed how different factors related to the occupant in a motor vehicle collision influenced the susceptibility of the occupant to injury. They looked at the head-neck and spine orientation at the time of the crash, the role facet joints play in stability of the cervical spine and the role neck muscles play in stability of the cervical spine.



“...cervical spine orientation can also influence head-neck response to automotive rear impacts, as well as the likelihood and severity of injury” (Stemper et al., 2011, p. S182). Changes in the curves or positioning of the head and neck are both considered in regards to cervical spine orientation. The authors found that the literature “has correlated abnormal cervical curvatures with higher rates of injury and postinjury degenerative changes in the spine” (Stemper et al., 2011, p. S182).




Cervical facet joints can be the source of pain, but also contribute to the stability of the spine. The authors found, “cervical facet joints demonstrated a considerable contribution to spinal stability under extension moments and shear loads” (Stemper et al., 2011, p. S183). This is important, as the mechanism of injury in rear impact collisions involves both of these movements.

Neck muscles contribute to stability of the spine as well. “The influence that muscle contraction may have on motions of the head-neck complex is dependent upon its location and magnitude of force” (Stemper et al., 2011, p. S183). Therefore, the influence of muscles on stability of the spine will vary depending on the size of the individual and the force of the trauma. When treating the traumatically injured, it is important to understand the biomechanics of the spine, the structures that aid in stability of the spine and the mechanism of injury to accurately correlate the patients symptoms to bodily injury.


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Reference:

Stemper , B. D., Pintar , F. A. , & Rao , R. D. (2011). The influence of morphology on cervical

injury characteristics. Spine, 36(25S), S180–S186.

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