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Automotive Neck Injuries
Published January 01, 1982 by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in United States
Statistical study of NCSS (US) and HUK (German) accident files show that a major cause of critical and fatal neck injuries in frontal collisions are head impacts with the interior surfaces of the vehicle. Inertial loading of the head and neck without head impact is significantly less noxious.
With head impact, the compressive or shear loading of the neck without head impact and its subsequent failure in flexion or extension is the putative mechanism for severe neck injuries causing quadriplegia.
Without head impact, flexion/extension (whiplash) caused by inertial loading is the injury mechanism observed, which, fortunately, is not a cause of major injury.
The close association of head and neck injuries is well supported by these data and the role of restraint systems in reducing both types of injuries by preventing head impact is discussed.