This work is focused on the evaluation of the dynamic performance of different neck protection devices.
In order to evaluate the mechanical response of the safety devices, a multibody model of the human neck has been developed in Matlab™ SimMechanics™.
The mechanical behavior of the neck is described in the paper and different injury indices are presented and compared. The information about anatomy and physiology of the cervical spine of the neck has been collected from the literature, with particular focus on the mechanism of damage of vertebrae, disks and soft tissues.
The multibody model has been validated against experimental data available in the literature concerning impulsive loads representative of crash phenomena.
By means of the presented model, some relevant injury indices are computed for an accident involving a motorcyclist.
Since the focus has been set on mild injuries of the neck, the simulated crash should cause a high probability of injuries of the neck together with a low probability of damages of the head while wearing a standard helmet.
The performance of neck safety devices that link the helmet with the thoracic-shield are evaluated and compared. For sake of clearness, three types of neck safety devices are considered referencing to US patents: an airbag jacket, a 3D cushion wrapping the motorcyclist’s neck, and a “spring and dampers” system.
The airbag jacket has been modeled as a high stiffness and low deformation system by considering the airbag in its fully deployed configuration and by neglecting its dynamic performance during inflation phase. The other safety devices have been modeled as lumped parameters spring-damper systems.
A sensitivity analysis on the injury indexes has been performed by changing the stiffness and the damping parameters of these safety systems. The injury indexes collected by simulating the different neck safety systems have been compared.