Spine Biomechanics

The importance of the spine you ask? The spine runs from the base of the skull to the pelvis and serves as a pillar to support the body’s weight and protect the spinal cord. As the back bone of the human body, damage to the spine such as injuries involving the spinal cord can result in serious life alterations. The spine can be injured in a plethora of different ways depending on multiple factors that NBI’s experts are able to consider in order to develop their opinions. Analysis of potential for spinal injury is done through kinetic and kinematic analysis, with the use of peer-reviewed and industry accepted scientific methods and a deep understanding of the anatomy, movement and tolerances of the spine.

Motor vehicle collisions are in fact the leading cause of damages to the spine. For this reason, our experts have extensive experience in assessing the potential for injury experienced in these types of incidents. Take the example of a t-bone collision. A car was hit on the side. The driver’s airbag deployed but he did not sustain any major injury. The passenger on the other hand, was found to sustain a disc protrusion at the cervical level of the spine. The question is: if the driver was not injured, could the disc protrusion sustained by the passenger have been caused by the same accident? In such instances, our accident reconstruction experts are able to provide our biomechanics experts with information such as the change in velocity at the time of the accident, the principal direction in which the force was applied to the impacted vehicle and the duration of the impact. Based on those information, our experts are able to simulate and analyze occupant’s spine movement and the forces experienced at the time of the accident with the use of methods such as physics-based computer simulations. Based on these findings, the relations between the forces applied to the spine, its motions and mechanisms as well as the potential for physical and mechanical damage is examined. The environment with factors such as seat belt, airbag deployment will also be examined to determine whether they played a mitigating or contributing role to the injury. Lastly, because every person is different, the potential for injury will be assessed based on available evidence such as past medical and/or social history and incorporating factors that could potentially heighten the risk of injury. To assess injury potential NBI’s experts also regularly conducts ADT (anthropometric test devices) testing which provide insight into the factors associated with injury potential.

Other instances in which our experts are able to investigate and assess the potential for injury include workplace accidents. Take the example of a faulty ladder. The construction worker was climbing back down and only experienced a fall from 3 feet above the ground. Was the 3 foot high fall really forceful enough to cause fracture of a thoracic vertebrae? Through collection and review of all available evidence including depositions, medical records and by conducting inspections of the environment in which the incident occurred, our experts are able to analyze potential mechanisms for the incident and their potential for injury. In the case of a fall for example, our experts are able to model the falling construction worker based on the laws of physics, analyze the forces experienced at the spine during impact and assess their potential for vertebral fracture.

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