We know how important our pillow is to preventing neck strain, but the proper use of a well- engineered headrest can dramatically reduce the injury caused from whiplash in a car accident.
Whiplash, also known as neck sprain or strain, is an injury to the soft tissues of the neck. It is caused by sudden extension and flexion – backward and then forward – movement of neck.
Many car accident victims experience some form of whiplash, and is more common in a rear-end car crash. But whiplash can also occur:
- where the speed is less than 10km/hour
- when a car stops abruptly after striking a pole, a wall, or another car, and can also occur after a side impact.
Studies show that vehicles that have well-designed head restraints or headrests can reduce rear-impact crash injuries, including brain injuries, by 24-44%. The key to maximizing the benefit of the headrest is to ensure it is correctly positioned. The restraint or headrest should be even with the top of your head or at least to the top of your ears. The distance is also important to safety and should be approximately 2 inches from the back of your head. The closer the headrest is to your head will help cushion the blow and reducing the severity of the injury.
There are also many models of cars that come with the Active or Dynamic Head Restraint system, which uses mechanical linkages to move the head restraint and or the seat back to cushion the driver or passenger in the event of a crash. Many car models have an active head restraint systems such as Toyota, SAAB and Volvo.
ICBC’s top five tips for buying a safer vehicle include choosing a vehicle that has a head restraint system as rated good or better by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or on Safercar.gov. Do yourself a favor and protect your neck and spine but ensuring your headrests are adjusted to the optimum position.