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TitleCervical spine injuries in car occupants
AuthorsRyan GA
TypeBook Chapter
AbstractThis chapter provides an overview of the current state of knowledge regarding injury to the cervical spine in car occupants. First, the anatomy of the neck is briefly described; then the prevalence and nature of neck injuries sustained by car occupants in crashes is reviewed, followed by a review of the main injury producing mechanisms and the common types of iniurv to the cervical spine. The study of the biomechanics of injury to the cervical spine has proved difficult due to the complexities of the structure of the neck and its interactions with the head and torso. The injury criteria available to date are therefore rather tentative. The selection of references in this review is representative rather than exhaustive the aim being to provide the best available material on each aspect of the topic. It is partly based on a previous review of head and neck injuries. The role of the neck is to support the head, while providing sufficient movement to enable complete surveillance of the surrounding environment, and to protect the vulnerable structures passing from head to trunk and limbs (i.e., spinal cord and nerve roots) and major vessels passing from heart to head. In fulfilling these roles the normal relationship between vertebrae must be maintained under physiologic loads so that neither damage nor irritation of spinal cord or nerve roots occurs. The bony, ligamentous, and muscular elements combine to carry out this function. Injury to the cervical spinal column, its supportive ligamentous structures, and contained spinal cord is a common and too often disabling consequence of automobile crashes. Severity of injury may range from a minor strain with no long-term disability to tetraplegia (paralysis of all four limbs), or even death. The susceptibility of the neck to injury relates to the inherent flexibility of the cervical spine and its lack of support compared with the thoracic spine, which is supported by the ribs and muscles of the chest and back, and the lumbar spine, which is supported by the muscles of the abdomen and lumbar region.
Book DetailsAutomotive Engineering and Litigation (volume 4), Peters GA, Peters BJ (eds)
Page Range305-321
Page Count22
Notesavailable from CASR library on request

Ryan GA (1991). Cervical spine injuries in car occupants. In Automotive Engineering and Litigation (volume 4), Peters GA, Peters BJ (eds) (pp. 305-321).