Browse Publications Technical Papers 2004-22-0014

Cervical Spine Geometry in the Automotive Seated Posture: Variations with Age, Stature, and Gender 2004-22-0014

In the mid 1970s, UMTRI investigated the biomechanical properties of the head and neck using 180 “normal” adult subjects selected to fill eighteen subject groups based on age (young, mid-aged, older), gender, and stature (short, medium, and tall by gender). Lateral-view radiographs of the subjects’ cervical spines and heads were taken with the subjects seated in a simulated automotive neutral posture, as well as with their necks in full-voluntary flexion and full-voluntary extension. Although the cervical spine and lower head geometry were previously measured manually and documented, new technologies have enabled computer digitization of the scanned x-ray images and a more comprehensive and detailed analysis of the variation in cervical spine and lower head geometry with subject age, stature, and gender. After scanning the radiographic images, 108 skeletal landmarks on the cervical vertebrae and 10 head landmarks were digitized. The resulting database of cervical spine and head geometry was used to study cervical spine curvature, vertebral dimensions, and head/neck orientation as functions of age, gender, and stature. The data were used to characterize neutral posture cervical spine curvatures using two methods: a curvature index and Bézier spline functions. Lateral-view vertebral dimensions were also calculated for each subject, and a cascading series of equations was developed to estimate vertebral size and shape for a selected age, stature, and gender. The orientation of the cervical spine was defined using a neck chord angle, where the neck chord was varied to use different anatomical landmarks and estimates of joint centers for the top and bottom of the neck chord. Results from the study have been incorporated into a MS-Access based software package that allows researchers and modelers to generate cervical spine geometries for occupants of a specified age, gender, and stature. The program allows selection of individual occupants from the database that meet age, stature, gender, or curvature criteria, or creation of a composite cervical spine geometry representative of the selected age, gender, and stature. This tool will allow researchers to configure and vary cervical spine geometry in computer models and experimental test setups used to study head and neck impact response and injury risk.


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