Avoiding Whiplash

These tips were given by Dr. Arthur Croft of the Spine Research Institute of San Diego to minimize pain and suffering before, during and after an accident. Journal of the American Chiropractic Association, Feb. 2000, Vol 37, No. 2,

1. Shop for a Safer Car
Compare vehicle structural design, size, weight, and restraint systems - airbags, belts, head restraints and crash avoidance systems. "Smaller cars put you at a greater risk" Always check Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ratings for safest seats, head restraints, etc. Volvo and Saab lead the way in seat designs that were similar to recommendations made by Dr. Croft in his book, Whiplash Injuries: The Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration Syndrome.

2. Keep Head Restraints in Up Position
Eighty percent of cars have the head restraint adjusted in the low position, yet research shows that having no head restraint is safer than having one in the low position. Also, head restraints are designed to fit the average man, which can be difficult for shorter or taller people to get a good fit. Some add-on restraints are available, but first check for safety approval and ease of installation.

3. Prepare for Crash 4. Seek Treatment Immediately
Missing the important first two-week window of opportunity increases the likelihood of a chronic condition. Remember, one in three whiplash patients will have chronic problems. That is why it is so important to seek treatment early.

5. No Crush, No Crash? Not True
"There is absolutely no truth to that" Injuries are more prevalent within a certain range of crash speeds when there is no damage, than when there is damage to the vehicle. The reason for this is that the energy that's used up in the crushing of the parts of the car is not transmitted to the passengers.

6. Do What the Doctor Orders
Exercises, ice, nutrition, soft collars for the first few days, adjusted work stations, deep tissue massage, specific joint manipulation/adjustments - Doing what your chiropractic physician prescribes will improve your outcome.

7. Think Ergonomically
Positions to avoid, how to sleep, conditions at work - these are everyday factors that can hasten healing. Avoid prolonged postures, for example, patients have problems having their heads turned for long periods of time, such as when talking to someone on one side, or looking out an airplane window. Use an office chair with arm rests to hold the weight of the arms and shoulders up which reduces neck strain.