Anita Vasavada, Ph.D.
Office: McCoy South 203W
Phone: (509) 335-7533
Biomechanics and neural control of the musculoskeletal system, utilizing
anatomically-based models complemented with experimental data. Most of my
research is focused on the human head and neck system.
Specific Research Projects
Postural stability of the human head and neck
Neck muscles are important for both static postural stability (i.e., holding
up the head) and restoring head posture under dynamic conditions, such as those
that might occur during a blow to the head or an automobile accident (e.g.,
whiplash injury). When muscles are unable to stabilize the head, it can
lead to injury and chronic neck pain. We are examining how the activation
of neck muscles complements passive tissue stiffness to achieve postural
stability using experimental studies in human subjects integrated with
biomechanical model analysis.
Mechanisms of whiplash injury
The anatomical site and mechanism of injury during whiplash (a rapid
acceleration of the head and neck) are still unclear. We have utilized a
biomechanical model of the neck musculoskeletal system with experimental data of
human subjects undergoing 5 mph whiplash-like perturbations to calculate the
strains, and thus potential for injury, in neck muscles.
Gender differences in the neck musculoskeletal system
The goal of this work is to evaluate factors responsible for the increased
incidence of whiplash injury and neck pain in females vs. males. We have
found that female neck geometry is not a simple scaled version of male neck
geometry, which implies that gender-specific biomechanical models are necessary
to evaluate gender differences in neck musculoskeletal disorders. We are
currently developing a biomechanical model of the female neck musculoskeletal
Improving the geometric representations of neck muscles in
Our current models of the neck musculature represent neck muscles as straight
lines. We are incorporating curved muscle paths into our models by
defining geometrical constraints that approximate the curved neck muscle paths
based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data.
Siegmund, GP, Winkelstein, BA, Ivancic, PC, Svensson, MY,
Vasavada, AN. The anatomy and biomechanics of acute and chronic whiplash
injury. Traffic Injury Prevention, 10(2):101-112, 2009.
Vasavada, AN, Lasher, RA, Meyer, TE, Lin, DC. Defining
and evaluating MRI-derived wrapping surfaces for spinal muscles. Journal
of Biomechanics, 41:1450-1457.
Vasavada, AN, Danaraj, J, Siegmund, GP. Head and neck
anthropometry, vertebral geometry and neck strength in height-matched men and
women. Journal of Biomechanics, 41:114-121, 2008.
Vasavada, AN, Brault, JR, Siegmund, GP. Musculotendon
and fascicle strains in anterior and posterior neck muscles during whiplash
injury. Spine, 32(7):756-765, 2007.
Anderson, J, Hsu, A, Vasavada, AN. Morphology,
architecture and biomechanics of the human cervical multifidus. Spine,
Vasavada, AN, Peterson, BW, Delp, SL.
Three-dimensional spatial tuning of neck muscle activations in humans.
Experimental Brain Research, 147:4:437-448, 2002. [cited 11 times].
Panjabi, MM, Crisco, JJ, Vasavada, A, Oda, T, Cholewicki, J, Nibu, K, Shin,
E. Mechanical properties of the human cervical spine as shown by
three-dimensional load-displacement curves. Spine, 26(24):2692-2700, 2001.
Vasavada, AN, Li, S, Delp, SL. Three-dimensional
isometric strength of neck muscles in humans. Spine, 26(17):1904-1909,
Vasavada, AN, Li, S, Delp SL. Influence of muscle
morphometry and moment arms on the moment-generating capacity of human neck
muscles. Spine, 23(4):412-422
PubMed Publications (Note: PubMed Search may produce additional "Vasavada,