I have been asked in court from the insurance companies attorney ” Since the patient had a head restraint, wouldn’t that minimize injuries?” Well, maybe, however here is a study that shows even with head restraints, necks get injured. This is why so many factors need to be evaluated and asked during your exam with your patient. What may be more important, is asking your patient what position the head restraint was in during the impact. Here is a abstract of a study that shows neck ligaments get damaged even with head restraints.
Effect of active head restraint on residual neck instability due to rear impact.
An in vitro study of simulated whiplash using a hybrid cadaveric/surrogate model.
The goal of the present study was to determine the effect of the active head restraint (AHR) on residual neck instability due to simulated rear impacts of a human model of the neck.
SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:
Previous studies have indicated potential benefits of active injury prevention systems in reducing neck injuries during rear impacts.
Six osteoligamentous whole cervical spine specimens (occiput-T1) were prepared with vertebral motion tracking flags. The model, consisting of the neck specimen mounted to the torso of BioRID II and carrying an anthropometric surrogate head, was rear impacted (7.1 and 11.1 g) with and without the AHR. Pre- and post-impact flexibility tests identified significant residual instability (P < 0.05) above physiologic values and among experimental conditions. Linear regression analyses were used to identify correlation between spinal rotation peaks measured during impact and the resulting flexibility parameter increases (R² > 0.35 and P < 0.001).
Our results indicated significant increases in the average flexibility parameters, up to 3.1°, at C2-C3, C3-C4, and C5-C6 due to 7.1 g rear impacts even in the presence of the AHR. Subsequently, increases in the flexibility parameters progressed and spread to head/C1 and to the inferior spinal levels following the 11.1 g impacts. Correlation was observed between the C7-T1 extension peaks measured during impact and the flexibility parameter increases measured following impact. The flexibility parameter increases were generally larger due to the impacts with no head restraint, as compared with the AHR.
Extrapolation of our results indicated that every 1° of extension beyond the physiologic limit during whiplash contributed approximately 0.5° of residual neck rotation following whiplash. The present data underscore the protective effect of the AHR in reducing residual neck instability due to whiplash.