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Posted on 05-14-2013

Head Restraint Height Can Impact Neck Injury Likelihood

When was the last time you checked that the height of your head restraint was appropriate to prevent whiplash? If you are like most people, the answer is probably never. Interestingly, it is this one step that, if performed by drivers even one time over the life of car ownership, would drastically reduce the incidence of whiplash in Baltimore and across the globe.

While change in velocities between two impacting vehicles play a part in relatively likelihood of injury following motor vehicle collision, as do human metrics (age, size, bracing for impact, previous injuries, etc), an often overlooked component about relatively likelihood of whiplash is something as simple as head restraint geometry.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has created a static head restraint rating diagram. A copy of it can be seen here. For proper safety, a head restraint should be positioned at least as high as the head's center of gravity, which for most people is approximately 9 cm below the apex of the head. This vertical height is referred to as "topset" distance. The other component that they measure is called "backset." Backset should be as little as possible, with a resting position of the back of the head no more than 8 cm from the head restraint.

For those who don't want to measure their topset and backset- take one simple step. Move the headrest up as high and as far forward as possible (in vehicles that have adjustable head restraints). Doing so will decrease the likelihood of neck injury following a rear-end impact. This simple step may just save you months of therapy in my office!

If you, or anyone you know has suffered whiplash and is experiencing headaches, neck pain, or back pain associated with an auto accident in Baltimore or the surrounding areas, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic or call us at (443) 842-5500. We would be happy to help!


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