Biomechanical Aspects of Cervical Trauma

  • James H. McElhaney
  • Barry S. Myers


From a mechanical and structural point of view, the cervical spine is a very complex mechanism. The human neck contains vital neurologic, vascular, and respiratory structures as well as the cervical vertebrae and spinal cord. Although injury statistics generally attribute only 2% to 4% of serious trauma to the neck, any neck injury can have debilitating if not life-threatening consequences. Permanent paralysis is a particularly devastating and costly injury. When it is a consequence of accidental trauma, frequently a young productive member of society is transformed into a totally dependent member. The advent of high-speed land and air transportation has made us increasingly aware of the serious consequences that can result from a structural failure of the neck. Also, as more people pursue leisure-time activities, the potential for serious neck injuries increases. Football, diving, gymnastics, skiing, hang gliding, mountain climbing, and amusement rides are but a few activities that expose the neck to a risk of serious injury. As a result, a variety of devices have evolved that offer a measure of protection to the neck from mechanical trauma. Head and seat restraints, motorcycle and football helmets, energy-absorbing pads and collars, and gymnastic mats are but a few examples of head and neck protective devices. Unfortunately, the design of many of these has proceeded with insufficient biomechanical input because of the lack of relevant data.


Spinal Cord Injury Cervical Spine Cervical Spine Injury Burst Fracture Neck Injury 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • James H. McElhaney
  • Barry S. Myers

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