An integrated multiscale analysis of injury mechanisms in sport impacts: an application to cervical spine biomechanics in rugby union scrummaging


Preatoni, E., Cazzola, D., Holsgrove, T., Gheduzzi, S., Miles, A., Stokes, K., Gill, H. and Trewartha, G., 2015. An integrated multiscale analysis of injury mechanisms in sport impacts: an application to cervical spine biomechanics in rugby union scrummaging.

Related documents:

PDF (Preatoni_ISB 2015-142-preview-5) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (174kB) | Preview


    Introduction and Objectives: By generating repetitive high-energy impacts (during the engagement phase) and intense sustained loads (during the sustained push phase) under unstable conditions [1], the Rugby Union scrum has been indicated as a possible risk factor for degenerative spinal injuries for forward players, and has been associated with ~40% of all catastrophic injuries in rugby [2]. However, little is known about how these external loading conditions translate into internal stresses on the spinal structures. The aim of this study was to investigate the biomechanics of cervical spine injury during rugby activities using an integrative approach: in-vivo and in-vitro experiments combined with musculoskeletal modelling. Methods: Three levels of analysis (Levels 1-3) were integrated. Level 1 was a biomechanical study of scrummaging (N=9 experienced rugby forwards) including motion capture (Oqus, Qualisys, Sweden), force measurement (force plates: Kistler 92876BA, Switzerland; and instrumented scrum machine, [1]), and EMG of neck and trunk muscles (Delsys Trigno, Delsys Inc, USA), carried out to assess the external kinematic and kinetic conditions acting on front row players. The subsequent phases of scrummaging, initial engagament (impact and shock absorption) and sustained push, were observed. Level 2 developed a bespoke musculoskeletal model (Rugby Model, [3]), consisting of 27 anatomical segments, 26 joints, 78 cervical muscles, and 11 torque actuators, in OpenSim (OpenSim 3.2, SimTK, USA). The Rugby Model was driven by the experimental data from Level 1 and was used to estimate joint dynamics, with a specific interest in cervical joint motions and moments. Level 3 performed an in-vitro laboratory experiment to study the injury mechanisms of porcine cervical spines subjected to impact loading conditions similar to those during scrummaging. Load (2 load cells: SLC41/005000, RDP Electronics Ltd, UK) and deformations caused by impacts (mass of 12.86 kg dropped from a height of 250 mm to give an impact velocity of ~2.2 m/s) were measured in a custom made impact rig, and highspeed videos (2 Fastcam SA3, Photron Europe Ltd, UK) were used to investigate the mechanisms of injury through digital image correlation (Vic-3D 2009.1.0, Correlated Solutions Inc, USA). Results: Results from the biomechanical analysis confirmed that the load acting on the players, especially during the initial engagement, was of a considerable magnitude (~2.8 kN compression force in single-player machine scrummaging). Muscle activation patterns were affected by scrummaging conditions (e.g. machine vs. contested scrummaging; ‘Crouch-touch-set’ vs. ‘Crouch-bind-set’ sequence) and phases of the scrum (e.g. pre-engagement vs. engagement vs. sustaned push). For example, the activity of the erector spinae was significantly lower (in excess of 65%) in machine scrummaging than in contested scrummaging, and the activation of sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius through pre-engagement and engagement were higher in the current ‘Crouch-bind-set’ technique than in the past ‘Crouchtouch- set’ one. The computational musculoskeletal model highlighted an antiphase change in movement and loading patterns between the upper and lower cervical levels (i.e. flexion load on the lower vertebrae and extension on the upper vertebrae), and resulted in a “flattening” of the lordotic cervical curve during the impact phase. The present findings do not provide direct evidence for injury mechanisms but seem in line with the patterns of injury that previous authors have described in relation with scrum-related neck traumas [2]. The patterns of strain, load and resulting damages on the cervical structures of the impacted porcine specimens were also similar to those clinically observed in injured players, with the caudal vertebrae (C4-C6) more prone to damages (6 out of 8 specimens) as a consequence of the impact. Fractures resulted from tension in the vertebral bodies due to first order buckling of the cervical spine in extension. The mean maximum load in the cranial and caudal load cells was 5.8±2.0 kN and 6.0±2.1 kN and was reached at a time of 5.1±1.0 ms and 5.6±1.1 ms after impact, respectively.


    Item Type Conference or Workshop Items (UNSPECIFIED)
    CreatorsPreatoni, E., Cazzola, D., Holsgrove, T., Gheduzzi, S., Miles, A., Stokes, K., Gill, H. and Trewartha, G.
    DepartmentsFaculty of Humanities & Social Sciences > Health
    Faculty of Engineering & Design > Mechanical Engineering
    Research CentresCentre for Orthopaedic Biomechanics
    Centre for Regenerative Medicine
    EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Statistical Mathematics (SAMBa)
    ID Code45784


    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads

    More statistics for this item...