Auto Injury Whiplash Biomechanics

Due to the large forces generated, injury to the spine may occur with high speed impacts of this type. This type of injury is responsible for what is often referred to as whiplash associated disorders. Many things can be responsible for these symptoms but it is usually the result of rear end collisions. This is why most of the research is target at accidents traveling between 8-12 km/h.

Auto Accident Studies

There have been numerous studies performed to study the effects of low speed auto accidents. In the 1950's live humans were used. Macnab later strapped monkeys to a steel platform and dropped them from different heights. They have tried using cadavers as well as the famous crash test dummies. All in an attempt to understand the effect of automobile accidents and how they can cause whiplash type injuries.

What happens when cars crash

As soon as your car is hit by a second car, the seat back first contacts your low back, causing the seat to deflect backward, away from your upper back. For this reason, many people develop low back pain with auto accidents. This causes the causes the seat back and head rest to be lowered relative to your body. This causes a "ramping" effect (lifting your body up) almost immediately after the impact of the automobile accident. This causes compression of your cervical spine. This all happens before any forward motion takes place. The flattening of your mid back probably adds to the compression in your neck.

Forward movement of your mid back puts your neck in a flexed position. These compressive forces affect the lower neck first, but quickly affect the upper neck as well. This often results in an S shaped cervical spine.

As your body and the base of your neck are accelerated forward with the cervical spine in maximum extension, the head follows in forward acceleration. This creates a whip like action of your head on your neck. If you stop and think about it. Your head weighs 8lbs. About the same as a bowling ball. That is a lot of stress on your neck.

If you have been involved in an automobile accident you are probably suffering from whiplash. Don't wait until it's too late. Call 925 685-2002 or Click here to schedule your free consultation with one of our doctors.




Kinematics - The study of motion of rigid bodies without consideration of the forces involved. For our purposes we will use the vertebrae.

Kinetics- The study of motion of rigid bodies with consideration of the forces involved. Lots of thing influence this such as the weight of the head, gravity, muscles, ligaments.

Translation- This is when all parts move along a curvilinear path, without rotation.

Functional spinal unit -(FSU) is the smallest physiological motion unit of the spine to exhibit biomechanical characteristics similar to those of the entire spine.[1]

A FSU consists of two adjacent vertebrae, the intervertebral disc and all adjoining ligaments between them and excludes other connecting tissues such as muscles. The three-joint complex that results is sometimes referred to as the 'articular triad'. Another term for the FSU is spinal motion segment.



1.      ^ White AA, Panjabi MM. (1990). Clinical biomechanics of the spine. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott Company.. 

2.      ^ Panjabi MM. (1992). "The stabilizing system of the spine. Part II. Neutral zone and instability hypothesis.". J Spinal Disord 5 (4): 390-7. doi:10.1097/00002517-199212000-00002.





Keywords: Auto Accident, Automobile Accident, Car Accident, Auto Accident injury, Auto Injury, Auto injury Attorney, Auto Accident Attorney, Whiplash, Whiplash Doctor, Auto Accident Doctor, Auto Injury Doctor, Auto Accident Chiropractor, Auto Injury Chiropractor, Chiropractor



Newsletter Sign Up

3D Spine Simulator

Launch 3D Spine Simulator


Barton Chiropractic
1251 Monument Blvd. #140
Walnut Creek, CA 94520
Get Directions

  • Phone: 925-685-2002
  • Fax: 925-685-2005
  • Email Us

Reviews and Testimonials

Community Content