Estimation of viscoelastic bushing parameters of a musculoskeletal cervical spine model in impact scenarios

Pavlos Silvestros, Stuart Boyd, Bruno Agostinho Hernandez, Sabina Gheduzzi, Harinderjit Gill, Ezio Preatoni, Dario Cazzola

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Head collisions in sport can result in catastrophic cervical spine injuries. Musculo-skeletal (MSK) modelling can help analyse the relationship between players’ motion, external loading and internal stresses that lead to injury. However, the literature lacks sport specific MSK models. In automotive research the intervertebral disc behaviour has been represented as viscoelastic elements (“bushing”), whose stiffness and damping parameters are often estimated under quasi-static conditions and may lack validity in dynamic impacts.
The aim of this study was to develop a validated cervical spine model for axial impacts for future use in the analysis of head-first rugby collisions.
A drop test rig was used to replicate a sub-catastrophic axial head impact. A load of 80 N from 0.5 m was applied to the cranial aspect of a C2-C6 porcine spinal specimen mounted in the neutral position. The 3D motion of C3-C5 vertebras (4 kHz) and the cranial axial load (1 MHz) were measured via motion capture (Qualysis, Sweden) and a uniaxial load cell (RDP Electronics Ltd, UK). Specimen specific models were created in NMSBuilder and OpenSim after the vertebrae geometries were obtained from the segmentation of micro-CT images of the specimens. The compressive viscoelastic properties of four vertebral joints (C2-C3 through to C5-C6) were optimised via a Genetic Algorithm (MATLAB v2016b, The Mathworks Inc) to minimise tracking errors.
The optimisation converged to a solution of 140-49000 kN/m and 2000-8000 Ns/m for stiffness and damping respectively (RMSE=5.1 mm). Simulated joint displacements ranged between 0.09 – 1.75 mm compared to experimental 0.1 – 0.8 mm.
Optimal bushing parameters were higher than previously reported values measured through quasi-static testing [1]. Higher stiffness and damping values could be explained by the higher-dynamics nature of the event analysed related to a different part of the non-linear intervertebral disc load-displacement curve.

1. Moroney et al.; (1998). JBiomech, 21(9)
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrthopaedic Proceedings
Issue numberSupplement 2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Proceedings of the British Orthopaedic Research Society Conference (BORS 2018), 10-11 Sept 2018, Leeds (UK)


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