The Rate of Change of Acceleration:
Implications to Head Kinematics
During Rear-end Impacts

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM:   Accid Anal Prev. 2008 (May);   40 (3):   10631068 ~ FULL TEXT

Loriann M. Hynes, James P. Dickey

Human Health and Nutritional Sciences,
University of Guelph,
Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1

Whiplash is a mechanism of injury commonly associated with rear-impact vehicle collisions. To date, research has focused primarily on changes in velocity and acceleration as key factors for determining injuries due to whiplash mechanisms, but other characteristics of the acceleration pulse may be important. This study assessed whether the head acceleration response to whiplash-like perturbation profiles were affected by a change in the rate of the applied acceleration, or jerk.

Twenty-one subjects were exposed to different low-velocity rear-impact whiplash-like perturbations using a precisely controlled robotic platform. The perturbations were divided into two groupings of peak acceleration (approximately 10 (high) and 5.7 (low) m/s2) and three groupings of jerk (approximately 260, 310, and 360 m/s3). These six profiles were repeated twice.

Results demonstrated that the jerk magnitude significantly affected forehead acceleration in the vertical and horizontal directions. Increasing the magnitude of the platform acceleration also differentially affected the horizontal and vertical forehead accelerations. This indicates that the level of jerk influences the resulting head kinematics and should be considered when designing or interpreting experiments that are attempting to predict injury from whiplash-like perturbations.

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