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Humans constantly interact with their surroundings, whether it is driving a car, sitting at a computer, or carrying a backpack full of books to school.  Computer modeling and simulation can help improve the design of workplaces, equipment, and automobiles to ensure that these interactions are safe and productive.

TURNING HEADS: Using biomechanical models to understand the mechanism of whiplash injury.


Whiplash injuries are a frequent and sometimes painful consequence of automobile accidents, but the location and mechanism of these injuries are poorly understood.

The effects of neck muscles during a rear-end impact are difficult to study with human subjects and cadavers, and a biomechanical neck model can complement experimental studies by estimating parameters such as tissue strains and strain rates that cannot be measured in vivo. Furthermore, women have a disproportionately higher incidence of whiplash injury and chronic neck pain compared to men.

Anita Vasavada and her research team at Washington State University, along with researchers at MEA Forensic Engineers & Scientists, are using musculoskeletal models of the head and neck, combined with magnetic resonance images and volunteer sled experiments to calculate the strains that neck muscles experience in rear-end car crashes.

In addition, the team has discovered that men and women have differently scaled neck muscular and skeletal geometry. In other words, the female neck is not simply a scaled version of the male neck. Consequently, Vasavada and colleagues are developing female-specific head and neck models to study gender differences in neck musculoskeletal disorders.

Find out more about Vasavada’s model at her SimTK project site: http://SimTK.org/home/neck_mechanics

See other examples of research projects developed with OpenSim

OpenSim is supported by the Mobilize Center , an NIH Biomedical Technology Resource Center (grant P41 EB027060); the Restore Center , an NIH-funded Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource Network Center (grant P2C HD101913); and the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance through the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation. See the People page for a list of the many people who have contributed to the OpenSim project over the years. ©2010-2024 OpenSim. All rights reserved.