Knowledge and application of correct car seat head restraint usage among chiropractic college interns: a cross-sectional study

Taylor, John A. M.; Burke, Jeanmarie; Gavencak, John; Panwar, Pervinder
March 2005
Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association;Mar2005, Vol. 49 Issue 1, p32
Academic Journal
Summary of background data: Cervical spine injuries sustained in rear-end crashes cost at least $7 billion in insurance claims annually in the United States alone. When positioned correctly, head restraint systems have been proven effective in reducing the risk of whiplash associated disorders. Chiropractors should be knowledgeable about the correct use of head restraint systems to educate their patients and thereby prevent or minimize such injuries. Objectives: The primary objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of correct positioning of car seat head restraints among the interns at our institution. The secondary objective was to determine the same chiropractic interns' knowledge of the correct positioning of car seat head restraints. It was hypothesized that 100 percent of interns would have their head restraint correctly positioned within an acceptable range and that all interns would possess the knowledge to instruct patients in the correct positioning of head restraints. Study Design: Cross-sectional study of a convenient sample of 30 chiropractic interns from one institution. Methods: Interns driving into the parking lot of our health center were asked to volunteer to have measurements taken and to complete a survey. Vertical and horizontal positions of the head restraint were measured using a beam compass. A survey was administered to determine knowledge of correct head restraint position. The results were recorded, entered into a spreadsheet, and analyzed. Results: 13.3 percent of subjects knew the recommended vertical distance and only 20 percent of subjects knew the recommended horizontal distance. Chi Square analyses substantiated that the majority of subjects were unaware of guidelines set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the correct positioning of the head restraint (χ²vertical = 16.13, χ² horizontal = 10.80, p < .05). Only 6.7 percent of the subjects positioned their head restraint at the vertical distance of 6 cm or less (p < .05). However, 60 percent of the subjects positioned their head restraint at the recommended horizontal distance of 7 cm or less, but this was no different than could be expected by chance alone (p > .05). Interestingly, the 13.3 percent of the subjects who were aware of the vertical plane recommendations did not correctly position their own head restraint in the vertical plane. Similarly, only half of the subjects who were aware of the horizontal plane recommendations correctly positioned their head restraint in the horizontal plane. The data suggest that chance alone could account for the correct positioning of the head restraint in our subjects. Conclusions: The results of this cross-sectional study raise concerns about chiropractic intern knowledge and application of correct head restraint positioning. The importance of chiropractors informing patients of the correct head restraint position should be emphasized in chiropractic education to help minimize or prevent injury in patients involved in motor vehicle collisions.


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