Kinematic response of the spine during simulated aircraft ejections.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Military aviators are susceptible to spinal injuries during high-speed ejection scenarios. These injuries commonly arise as a result of strains induced by extreme flexion or compression of the spinal column. This study characterizes the vertebral motion of two postmortem human surrogates (PMHS) during a simulated catapult phase of ejection on a horizontal decelerator sled.


During testing, the PMHS were restrained supinely to a mock ejection seat and subjected to a horizontal deceleration profile directed along the local z-axis. Two midsized males (175.3 cm, 77.1 kg; 185.4 cm, 72.6 kg) were tested. High-rate motion capture equipment was used to measure the three-dimensional displacement of the head, vertebrae, and pelvis during the ejection event.


The two PMHS showed generally similar kinematic motion. Head injury criterion (HIC) results were well below injury threshold levels for both specimens. The specimens both showed compression of the spine, with a reduction in length of 23.9 mm and 45.7 mm. Post-test autopsies revealed fractures in the C5, T1, and L1 vertebrae.


This paper provides an analysis of spinal motion during an aircraft ejection.The injuries observed in the test subjects were consistent with those seen in epidemiological studies. Future studies should examine the effects of gender, muscle tensing, out-of-position (of head from neutral position) occupants, and external forces (e.g., windblast) on spinal kinematics during aircraft ejection.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Damon, AM; Lessley, DJ; Salzar, RS; Bass, CR; Shen, FH; Paskoff, GR; Shender, BS

Published Date

  • May 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 81 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 453 - 459

PubMed ID

  • 20464811

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1943-4448

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0095-6562

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3357/asem.2688.2010


  • eng