Whiplash injuries are an expensive and painful problem in the US. Experts estimate that we spend $29 billion per year in treating the pain and disability that can result from a rear-end collision.
But there are steps you can take to protect yourself from whiplash injury. The key to good whiplash protection is your head restraint. Numerous studies have shown that most people have an improperly adjusted head restraint, commonly called a head rest.
Whiplash injury occurs when your torso moves in one direction while your head moves in another direction. This can put hundreds of pounds of force on the delicate ligaments of your neck.
The key to good head restraint positioning is to eliminate or reduce the amount of space that your head can move. By doing that, it reduces the strain put on your neck. Your head restraint needs to be placed so that the back of your head is level with the middle of the restraint, and your seat needs to be positioned so that your head is very close. You want to have a maximum of 2.5 inches between your head and the restraint.
While car crashes are often out of your control, you can properly adjust your head restraint to reduce the chance of neck injury during a rear-end collision.
If you’ve already been injured in a crash, it’s important to get treatment right away. Research suggests that chiropractors can provide effective treatments for many patients with whiplash-associated disorders.
Freeman MD, et al. A review and methodologic critique of the literature refuting whiplash syndrome. Spine 1999; 24 (1): 86-96.
Prevent Injury, Adjust your Headrest. CAA South Central Ontario. http://www.caasco.com/insurance/auto-vehicle-insurance/adjust-your-headrest.jsp.
How to Adjust Your Head Restraint. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/info/adjust_head_restraints.pdf.