The term whiplash has been used to describe the injuries of the neck as a result of a rear end auto collision. It was eventually replaced with a flexion/extension injury and then in the early 90's it was replaced with cervical acceleration deceleration or CAD injury. Later doctors and research personnel used the term ramping to indicate how exactly the neck was injured. But with all of the new breakthroughs in diagnostic studies and overall technology used in research, whiplash was replaced once again in the late 90's. Today a lot more is known of the biomechanics of the neck during a rear end auto collision and the phrase that is presently used is a S shaped curve motion injury of the cervical spine. Kind of rolls off your tongue doesn't it? Regardless of what we call it I will briefly try and describe, in several parts, what happens to the cervical spine during a rear end auto collision.

The neck goes through several phases of injury during the collision and I will try and break it down as best I can. The first phase happens around 75 milliseconds or less than one 1/10 of a second. During this time the cervical vertebrae between C4-C7 begin to individually shear on one another.


When this happens several injuries can occur including a disc injury, facet joint injury and tearing of the capsular ligament. All of this can occur before your head even moves.                                                                                                                                                      - 110-150 milliseconds:the S shaped curve is over.

- 175-200 milliseconds:the drivers head is deflecting/bouncing off of the headrest.

- >200 milliseconds:you have seatback rebound of your body.

- 300-400 milliseconds: you can injure your discs, capsular ligament, interspinous ligament and supraspinous ligament.


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