Anita Vasavada, Ph.D.

Anita Vasavada, Ph.D.

Anita Vasavada, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Office: Wegner room 209
Phone: (509) 335-7533
Fax: (509) 335-4650


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.  

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 system.

Improving the geometric representations of neck muscles in biomechanical models

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.

Selected Publications

  1. Hildenbrand, K, Nevins, D, Vasavada, A, Smith, L. On-field head impact exposure in adolescent boys soccer measured by head-mounted accelerometers. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, in review, 2015.
  2. Vasavada, AN, Nevins, DD, Monda, SM, Hughes, E, Lin, DC.  Gravitational Demand on the Neck Musculature during Tablet Computer Use. Ergonomics, in press, 2015.
  3. Nevins DD, Zheng, L, Vasavada, AN.  Inter-individual Variation in Vertebral Kinematics Affects Predictions of Neck Musculoskeletal Models.  Journal of Biomechanics, in press, 2015.
  4. Lin, D., Godbout, D., Vasavada, AN.  Assessing the perception of human-like mechanical impedance for robotic systems. IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, 43(5), 479-486, 2013.
  5. Hildenbrand, K, Vasavada, AN.  Collegiate and high school athlete neck strength in neutral and rotated postures.  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(11):3173-82, 2013.
  6. Zheng, L, Siegmund, GP, Ozyigit, G, Vasavada, AN.  Sex-specific prediction of neck muscle volumes. Journal of Biomechanics, 46:899-904, 2013.
  7. Zheng L, Jahn J, Vasavada, AN.  Sagittal plane kinematics of the adult hyoid bone.  Journal of Biomechanics, 45:531-536, 2012.
  8. Suderman, BL, Vasavada, AN.  Moving muscle points provide accurate curved muscle paths in a model of the cervical spine.  Journal of Biomechanics, 45:400-404, 2012.
  9. Suderman, BL, Krishnamoorthy, B, Vasavada, AN.  Neck muscle paths and moment arms are significantly affected by wrapping surface parameters.  Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, 15:7:735-744, 2012.
  10. Jahn J, McMulkin ML, Vasavada, AN.  Calf muscle-tendon lengths before and after Tendo-Achilles lengthenings and gastrocnemius lengthenings for equinus in cerebral palsy and idiopathic toe-walking.  Gait and Posture, 29(4):612-617, 2009.

PubMed Publications (Note: PubMed Search may produce additional "Vasavada, AN" authors.)