Neuromuscular control of the head and neck in whiplash injuries

Whiplash injuries can result from the sudden backward and forward whipping movement of the neck. The injuries vary widely from temporary symptoms that resolve themselves to chronic and debilitating head, neck, shoulder, or arm pain. Women are more likely to develop symptoms after a car collision than men. Despite the high incidence and increasing costs associated with whiplash, these injuries are poorly understood. Dr. Jean-Sébastien Blouin is researching the role of neck muscle responses in whiplash injuries and the factors that make women more susceptible to whiplash symptoms. He is also investigating whether people with spinal cord injuries can maintain head stability during rear-end collisions because the lower back proprioceptors are possible triggers of the neck muscle responses, which are delayed or absent in this population. Results from this research could contribute to development of assistive devices for new cars and help reduce the risk of whiplash injuries.