Characterizing Trunk Muscle Activations During Simulated Low-Speed Rear Impact Collisions

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the activation profiles of muscles surrounding the lumbar spine during unanticipated and braced simulated rear-end collisions. Twenty-two low-speed sled tests were performed on 11 human volunteers (V = 4 km/h). Each volunteer was exposed to one unanticipated impact and one braced impact. Accelerometers were mounted on the test sled and participants’ low back. Six bilateral channels of surface electromyography (EMG) were collected from the trunk during impact trials. Peak lumbar accelerations, peak muscle activation delay, muscle onset time, and peak EMG magnitudes, normalized to maximum voluntary contractions (MVCs), were examined across test conditions. Though not statistically significant, bracing for impact tended to reduce peak lumbar acceleration in the initial rearward impact phase of the occupant’s motion by approximately 15%. The only trunk muscles with peak activations exceeding 10% MVC during the unanticipated impact were the thoracic erector spinae. Time of peak muscle activation was slightly longer for the unanticipated condition (unanticipated = 296 ms; braced = 241 ms). Results from this investigation demonstrate that during an unanticipated low-speed rear-end collision, the peak activation of muscles in the lumbar spine are low in magnitude. As such, muscle activation likely has minimal contribution to the internal joint loads that are experienced in the lumbar intervertebral joints during low-speed rear impact collisions. These findings justify the use of simplified joint models in estimating the joint loads in the lumbar spine during low-speed rear impact collisions and support the application of cadaveric and anthropomorphic test device (ATD) testing in understanding the resultant joint loads in the lumbar spine associated with rear-end collisions.


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  • Accession Number: 01712582
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 24 2019 3:00PM