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Papers of the Week

2022 Dec 19

J Biomech


Head supported mass, moment of inertia, neck loads and stability: A simulation study.


Barrett JM, Healey LA, McKinnon CD, Laing AC, Dickerson CR, Fischer SL, Callaghan JP
J Biomech. 2022 Dec 19; 146:111416.
PMID: 36584505.


Occupations or activities where donning head-supported mass (HSM) is commonplace put operators at an elevated risk of chronic neck pain. Yet, there is no consensus about what features of HSM influence the relative contributions to neck loads. Therefore, we tested four hypotheses that could increase neck loads: (i) HSM increases gravitational moments; (ii) more muscle activation is required to stabilize the head with HSM; (iii) the position of the HSM centre of mass (COM) induces gravitational moments; and (iv) the added moment of inertia (MOI) from HSM increases neck loads during head repositioning tasks. We performed a sensitivity analysis on the C5-C6 compression evaluated from a 24-degree freedom cervical spine model in OpenSim for static and dynamic movement trials. For static trials, we varied the magnitude of HSM, the position of its COM, and developed a novel stability constraint for static optimization. In dynamic trials, we varied HSM and the three principle MOIs. HSM magnitude and compression were linearly related to one another for both static and dynamic trials, with amplification factors varying between 1.9 and 3.9. Similar relationships were found for the COM position, although the relationship between C5-C6 peak compression and MOI in dynamic trials was generally nonlinear. This sensitivity analysis uncovered evidence in favour of hypotheses (i), (ii) and (iii). However, the model's prediction of C5-C6 compression was not overly sensitive to the magnitude of MOI. Therefore, the HSM mass properties may be more influential on neck compression than MOI properties, even during dynamic tasks.