Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD), also referred to as whiplash injuries, sustained in vehicle crashes is a worldwide problem. It is estimated that 300 000 citizens annually suffer whiplash injuries in the European Union, of which 15 000 result in long term suffering with an associated socio-economic impact of approximately 4 billion Euros per annum (insurance estimates). In Sweden, such injuries account for ~70% of all injuries leading to disability due to vechicle crashes.
The majority of those experiencing initial neck symptoms recover within a week of the car crash, however, 5-10% of individuals experience different levels of permanent disabilities. Whiplash injuries occur at relatively low velocity changes (typically <25 km/h), and in impacts from all directions. Rear impacts, however, occur most frequently in crash statistics.
Higher injury risk for females
It is well established that the whiplash injury risk is higher for females than for males, even in similar crash conditions. Injury statistics from the mid 1960´s until today all show that females have a higher risk of sustaining these injuries than males, ranging from 1.5 to 3 times higher.
The figure below shows the risk of whiplash injuries for male and female vehicle occupants found in the literature. It shows that the risk of injuries for females is higher than for males in all studies.
Crash test dummies
Females and males have different anthropometry and mass distribution, which may influence the interaction of the upper body with the seat back rest and head restraint and thus the injury risk. Crash test dummies are used when developing and evaluating the occupant protection performance of a vehicle.
At present, the only commercially available crash test dummy for rear impact testing, the BioRID, represents an average male. Anti-whiplash systems for passenger vehicles on the market today can reduce the injury risk, however, recent evaluation by the insurance industry has shown that males, more so than females, benefit from the recently developed protective performance of the seats.
Consequently, the current seats and whiplash protection systems are primarily adapted to the 50 th percentile male dummy available today, without considering female properties, despite a higher whiplash injury risk in females. The ADSEAT project will therefor aim at establishing the properties for a model of an average female and to implement such properties into a finite element model.