METHODS: Seventeen healthy volunteers were subjected to rear, frontal, right and left lateral and bilateral anterolateral, and posterolateral impacts with an acceleration varying from 4.4 to 16.8 m/s(2) while in a car seat with lap-and-shoulder seat belt.
RESULTS: For rear-end impacts, whether straight on, right posterolateral, or left posterolateral, all muscles generated 50% or less of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) EMG. In straight-on rear impacts, the sternocleidomastoid was symmetrically the most active; however, in posterolateral impacts, the sternocleidomastoid contralateral to impact direction was more active than its counterpart. For a right lateral impact, at the highest acceleration, the left splenius capitis generated 47% of its MVC and the left trapezius did 46% of its MVC. In a left lateral impact, the right splenius capitis generated 48% of its MVC and the right trapezius did 57% of its MVC. In a straight-on frontal impact, the left trapezius generated 35% of its MVC and the right trapezius did 48% of its MVC. In a left anterolateral impact, the right splenius generated 60% of its MVC and the right trapezius did 66% of its MVC. Similarly, in a right anterolateral impact, the contralateral splenius muscle increased its activity to 52% of its MVC and the left trapezius was at 52% of its MVC.
CONCLUSIONS: Compared with previously reported impact studies with a rigid seat and 5-point harness, the use of a 3-point lap-and-shoulder seat belt with a standard car seat did not appear to adversely affect cervical muscle response. In very-low-velocity and low-velocity impact experiments, seat belt and seat type may not significantly alter cervical EMG and kinematics.
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