The Biomechanics of Gender Difference and Whiplash Injury: Designing Safer Car Seats for Women

J. Mordaka, R. Gentle


Female car users are reported to have a higher incidence of soft tissue neck injuries in low speed rear-end collisions than males, and they apparently take longer to recover. This paper addresses the whiplash problem by developing a biomechanical FEM (Finite Element Method) model of the 50th and the 5th percentile female cervical spines, based on the earlier published male model created at the Nottingham Trent University. This model relies on grafting a detailed biomechanical model of the neck and head onto a standard HYBRID III dummy model. The overall philosophy of the investigation was to see if females responded essentially as scaled down males from the perspective of rear end collisions. It was found that detailed responses varied significantly with gender and it became clear that females cannot be modelled as scaled-down males, thus confirming the need for separate male and female biomechanical models and a revision of car test programmes and regulations which are currently based on the average male. Further investigation is needed to quantify the gender differences and then recommendations can be made for changes to the design of car seats and head restraints in order to reduce the risk of soft tissue injury to women.


female; whiplash; rear impact; biomechanics; cervical spine; kinematics

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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague