Here is a study that shows that crashes can damage the ligaments in the upper cervical spine. Make sure you check for these injuries in a specific way. After a detailed history and exam I find a DMX (digital motion x ray) is the best way to detect if this area is injured. Remember, head position can increase injuries in these areas as well.
Here is a little of what this study showed: "In rear impact, the ligament distractions predicted by the model increased with increasing impact severity (Fig. 4B). The highest ligament distractions for a 16 g rear . . .
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