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Awarded Grant Traumatic Injury Biomechanics

Biomechanical Mechanisms of Facet-Mediated Whiplash Injury & Pain

FOA Number: CE05-023 - Grants for Traumatic Injury Biomechanics
Project Period: 8/30/05-8/29/08
Application/Grant Number: CE000689
Principal Investigator: Beth Ann Winkelstein, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
3320 Smith Walk
Suite 120 Hayden Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104


Description: Whiplash and its associated syndromes continue to be ranked among the most common and debilitating nonfatal injuries. During whiplash, the neck’s fact joint can undergo subfailure mechanical injury, which due to its neurophysiologic anatomy, can generate pain from this extreme loading.

Researchers will define the mechanical conditions for dynamic facet joint loading that cause persistent pain symptoms and will develop guidelines for reducing the incidence of painful whiplash injuries in the general population. They will also guide modifications to the automobile and occupant use habits to reduce risk for such injuries. Researchers will integrate biomechanics, behavioral test instruments, and biochemical assays to link pain pathways with mechanical loading of the cervical fact joint. Investigators will apply controlled distraction(s) and compression(s) of the facet joint and study the onset of a graded persistent pain response in a rat, using a new micromechanical device developed in this laboratory. This research will directly link the initial mechanical conditions of the facet joint to pain pathways in the central nervous system; define mechanical thresholds for painful facet injuries and investigate the biomechanical risk factors; recommend future design interventions and behavioral modifications to prevent these injuries; and guide the future development of neck pain prevention and treatment.