Muscle activity during low-speed rear impact

Olive O'DRISCOLL, Marianne MAGNUSSON, Malcolm Henry POPE, Hung Kay Daniel CHOW

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Whiplash associated disorders remain a major health problem in terms of impact on health care and on societal costs. Aetiology remains controversial including the old supposition that the cervical muscles do not play a significant role. This study examined the muscle activity from relevant muscles during rear-end impacts in an effort to gauge their influence on the aetiology of whiplash associated disorders.
Methods: Volunteers were subjected to a sub-injury level of rear impact. Surface electromyography (EMG) was used to record cervical muscle activity before, during and after impact. Muscle response time and EMG signal amplitude were analysed. Head, pelvis, and T1 acceleration data were recorded.
Results: The activities of the cervical muscles were found to be significant. The sternocleidomastoideus, trapezius and erector spinae were activated on average 59 ms, 73 ms and 84 ms after the impact stimulus, respectively, prior to peak head acceleration (113 ms).
Conclusion: The cervical muscles reacted prior to peak head acceleration, thus in time to influence whiplash biomechanics and possibly injury mechanisms. It is recommended therefore, that muscular influences be incorporated into the development of the new rear-impact crash test dummy in order to make the dummy as biofidelic as possible. Copyright © 2019 Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Daping Hospital and the Research Institute of Surgery of the Third Military Medical University.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-84
JournalChinese Journal of Traumatology - English Edition
Issue number2
Early online dateFeb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


O'Driscoll, O., Magnusson, M., Pope, M. H., & Chow, D. H.-K., (2019). Muscle activity during low-speed rear impact. Chinese Journal of Traumatology, 22(2), 80-84. doi: 10.1016/j.cjtee.2018.10.006


  • Electromyography
  • Neck Muscles
  • Whiplash
  • Impact
  • Sled
  • Crash dummies


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