3D kinematic analysis and clinical evaluation of neck movements in patients with whiplash injury

Fabio Antonaci, M. Bulgheroni, S. Ghirmai, S. Lanfranchi, E. Dalla Toffola, G. Sandrini, G. Nappi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent decades whiplash injuries, being a major reason for compensation claims, have become increasingly important in forensic medicine. In view of this, a reliable diagnostic method of assessing cervical range of motion (ROM) is needed. The aim of the present study was to evaluate neck function with a 3D kinematic method compared with clinical evaluation in whiplash injury. Seventy consecutive patients (M/F = 18/52) with a history of whiplash injury (WH) and 46 healthy volunteers (M/F=24/22), mean age, respectively 33±9 and 28±6 years (mean±SD) entered the study. Patients suffered from neck pain and/or unilateral headache. A computerized kinematic analysis of the ROM (Elite system) using passive markers and two infrared TV cameras was used. Clinical evaluation of active ROM was also performed both in patients and in 61 controls (M/F = 23/38; mean age 47±18 years). Thirty out of 70 patients were tested at the time of their first consultation (T0) and 6 months later (T6), and 12 were also followed up after a year (T12). All neck movements, except extension, were significantly reduced in WH subjects compared with controls, in particular lateral bending. Comparing ROM at T0, T6 and T12, no significant differences were found. A global index of motion (GIM), obtained by calculating the sum of ROM in absolute value for all the movements acquired, was significantly reduced in WH compared with control subjects. The interobserver reliability of the clinical evaluation was globally acceptable. On the basis of the clinical evaluation, a significantly reduced ROM was found in all movements in WH subjects compared with an age-matched population. Computing the number of impaired cervical movements (ICMs), a significantly higher number was observed in WH patients than in controls, showing a decreasing trend at T6 and T12, with a significant improvement at T6 vs. T0. The computerized study of neck ROM may constitute a useful tool in the evaluation of WH at baseline and follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-542
Number of pages10
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2002


  • Cervicogenic headache
  • Kinematic analysis
  • Neck movement
  • Whiplash

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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