Protecting yourself from neck injury in a car crash
Whiplash injuries are too common. They are also expensive! In the US, we spend $29 billion per year in treating the pain and disability that often result from a rear-end collision. Those costs end up being passed down to us as consumers of auto and health insurance.
We all have a personal stake in staying protected as we drive. Here in St George, Utah, we seem to have more than our fair share of people running red lights, ignoring stop-signs. We also have a lot of rear-end collisions. You can protect yourself from collisions in two ways:
Distracted Drivers Cause Accidents
Pay attention! Turn off the cell phone, ignore all electronic devices while driving. While driving, your job is to drive, not chat with your kids. If you feel you must use a phone, then pull over. According to a study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 80% of car crashes and 65% of near-accidents involve at least some form of driver distraction within three seconds of the crash or near-miss. Sending a text message while driving increases your risk of a crash by 23.2 times, according to the report.
Adjust your head restraint.
You may be the 2nd most careful driver (next to me); you never use the phone, GPS, or even the radio! But sooner or later you will encounter the distracted driver and he will crash into you. You can help protect yourself now for that eventuality. A key to whiplash-injury protection is your head rest, which is more correctly called a head restraint. The job of the restraint is to keep the head from bending too far back during a rear-end collision.
In the moment of a rear-end collision, the upper torso of the body is pushed forward by the seat of the car. Meanwhile the upper neck and head remain stationary in space. In relative terms, the head is thrown back. This process injures the muscles, joints, and ligaments of the neck
A properly fitted head restraint can reduce the amount of excessive neck movement and reduce your neck injury. 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.
If you have recently been involved in a crash, it’s important to get a complete chiropractic examination. The emergency room looked for broken bones, not muscle or ligament damage. Chiropractic physicians are specially trained to identify and correct the delicate joints that can be injured in a rear-end collision. The chiropractor at Innova Pain Clinic has been treating neck injuries since 1995. Call our office today for an appointment.
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- 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.