Aims: To evaluate the electromyographic (EMG) activity of masseter and temporalis muscles in relation to impact awareness, gender, impact magnitude, and kinematics of head movement in simulated low-velocity rear-end impacts. Methods: Twenty-nine individuals (17 men and 12 women) were subjected in random order to 3 rear-end impacts: 2 unexpected impacts (chair accelerations of 4.5 m/s2 and 10.1 m/s2) and 1 expected impact (chair acceleration of 10.1 m/s2). The EMG activity of the deep and superficial masseter muscle was recorded bilaterally. EMG activity was also recorded for the left anterior temporalis muscle. Angular acceleration and angular displacement of the head were also recorded. The temporal relationship between onset of the masticatory muscle activity and maximum peak of the kinematics of head movement was determined. Results: The magnitude of normalized masticatory EMG activity ranged from 1.4 to 1.8 times higher (P < .05) for fast unexpected impacts compared to slow unexpected impacts in all masticatory muscles. The magnitude of normalized anterior temporalis EMG peak response ranged from 1.8 to 2.5 times higher (P < .05) in female subjects than in male subjects for all impacts. No significant differences were identified for impact awareness in the magnitude of normalized EMG activity for any masticatory muscle. No significant differences were identified with respect to timing of masticatory muscle response (P > .05). Conclusion: EMG activity increased with increased impact magnitude. Temporal and amplitude awareness of a simulated impact did not produce a difference in the masticatory muscle response. Gender differences were identified in the anterior temporalis muscle response. The onset of the masticatory muscle response occurred after peak angular acceleration of the head but prior to peak angular displacement of the head.
J Orofac Pain 2006;20:199–207
Key words: electromyography, kinematics of head movement, masseter muscle, temporalis muscle, whiplash