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Head and Neck Loading in Everyday and Vigorous Activities

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The purpose of this study was to document head and neck loading in a group of ordinary people engaged in non-injurious everyday and more vigorous physical activities. Twenty (20) volunteers that were representative of the general population were subjected to seven test scenarios: a soccer ball impact to the forehead, a self-imposed hand strike to the forehead, vigorous head shaking, plopping down in a chair, jumping off a step, a seated drop onto the buttocks, and a vertical drop while seated supine in a chair. Some scenarios involved prescribed and well-controlled stimuli, while others allowed the volunteers to perform common activities at a self-selected level of intensity. Head accelerations up to 31 g and 2888 rad/s2 and neck loads up to 268 N in posterior shear, 526 N in compression, and 36 Nm in extension were recorded. Most head and neck injury criteria predicted a low risk of injury in all activities. However, rotational head accelerations and Neck Injury Criterion (NIC) values were much higher than some proposed tolerance limits in a large number of tests, all of which were non-injurious. The data from this study help us to establish an envelope of head and neck loading that is commonly encountered and presents a minimal risk of injury.

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Correspondence to James R. Funk.

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Associate Editor Stefan Duma oversaw the review of this article.

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Funk, J.R., Cormier, J.M., Bain, C.E. et al. Head and Neck Loading in Everyday and Vigorous Activities. Ann Biomed Eng 39, 766–776 (2011).

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