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WHIPLASH What you need to know about it

Posted by in Neck Pain Causes, Neck Pain Essentials |

As more and more people drive cars these days we also inevitably are seeing an increase in car accidents. Whiplash is a common injury and females are 2 times more at risk than males and they are also more likely to develop long term symptoms. It is not well known why this is the case but it is thought that males have stronger neck muscles than females which may help and also because women tend to sit slightly more forward in their seat. When sitting further forward the head travels further before it hits the headrest. Another interesting fact is that drivers tend to have more serious neck injuries than the passengers. This is thought to be because the passengers tend to sit back in more of a reclined position with their heads against the headrests.

Now I have mentioned the head rests a couple or times in regards to whiplash injury but lets take a closer look at these things that we tend to think of as luxury items. I guess it’s because of their names which make us think of them as nothing more than something to rest our heads against. However, they are so much more than that.

How to decrease your risk of whiplash by 40%

When a rear collision occurs the head is thrust backward and into extension of forces up to 12G. A head rest or better termed, head restraint is designed to reduce that rearward motion of the head greatly decreasing your chances of a whiplash injury. With rear end collisions being so common it’s perhaps one of the most important safety features you have in your car.

It should be at head height that means your center of your head should meet the center of the head restraint. You should check yours the next time you decide to go for a drive and spend the time to position it correctly. It’s too late after a crash occurs. A head restraint that is too low allows the head to propel back and OVER it. You also don’t want your head too far forward. It should be no more than 4 finger widths from the head restraint. If you can’t do this comfortably you may want to invest in a car head support for better protection against neck injuries. Research has shown you will decrease your chance of neck injury by 40% with a correctly positioned headrest.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told automakers the head restraints in their passenger vehicles will have to extend higher and fit closer to the backs of people’s heads. For the first time, the new standard addresses the back set. Head restraints will have to be within about 2 inches behind the head.

Also, if you know your going to get hit try to decrease your risk of injury.  If you have your head or body turned during a collision it can greatly increase your chances of a significant injury. Keep your eyes on the road and your head straight. If you know you’re going to get hit, then reduce the distance between your head and the head restraint   by moving your head back. The car neck pillow reduces the headrest distance and increases your level of safety.

What to do if you know a car is going to hit you from behind

Crashes involving whiplash neck injuries happen at lightning-fast speeds, but if you have time to prepare: Put your head and your neck all the way back so that you’re in contact with the seat back and the properly adjusted head restraint. Straight-arm the steering wheel and get a good grip. If you are stopped, put your foot on the brake as hard as you can. Look straight ahead, not in the rearview mirror – don’t have your head turned at all. Put your neck back slightly so your eyes are looking level up at about the top of the windshield. Scrunch your shoulders up toward your ears and then brace.

I hope you never have to be involved in a car collision but at the very least I hope this will help you if something does happen. Happy motoring!