Ad features MSFHR whiplash researcher

14 July 2009

In February 2007, Dr. Jean-Sébastien Blouin an MSFHR-funded scholar was asked to participate in a television commercial about his research at the University of British Columbia (UBC) on spine related disorders.

The ad was designed to raise awareness about the Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation’s (CCRF) support for a faculty position in Spine Biomechanics and Neurophysiology at the UBC School of Human Kinetics. Dr. Jean-Sébastien Blouin’s research on whiplash injuries was a perfect fit. The CCRF is interested in helping fund the development of research expertise (from basic to clinical sciences) on spine function and spine related injuries in Canada. Dr. Blouin says, “The ad was an opportunity for me to talk about the work I am doing in conjunction with the CCRF professorship.”

This was the third CCRF professorship in Canada, and recently four more have been added with the newest one at McGill University.

The advertisement has been shown mainly in BC, most recently on Global, but also across Canada via CBC and TSN.

The ad is available for viewing on the UBC School of Human Kinetics website; click on the link "HKIN UBC & Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation".

Determining how the startle reflex affects whiplash injury

If you’re a jumpy person, you may be at a higher risk for getting whiplash in a rear-end collision.

As an MSFHR-funded post doctoral fellow, Dr. Jean-Sébastien Blouin conducted research that suggested the presence of a startle response when people are exposed to low speed rear-end collision.

Now a MSFHR Scholar, he is delving deeper into this finding. “We have a hypothesis that the startle response is linked to stimulation of the deep neck muscles,” he explains, adding that activation of these muscles during a collision may increase the risk of injury.

With volunteers acting as “crash test dummies,” Blouin is simulating very low speed (1.8 km/hour) collisions to observe their startle response and measure the corresponding muscle activity. He’s validating research that suggests a link between a strong startle response during a low speed collision and the development of whiplash symptoms. He’s also exploring if stimuli delivered immediately prior to the collision can inhibit the startle response, possibly providing protection against injury.

If this proves effective, Blouin says, “We might be able to develop a warning device in cars to help prevent whiplash injuries.”