Lumbar supports are helpful. Many upper-scale automobiles offer them as an option today. They are adjustable to accommodate the height of the driver and sometimes the front passenger. They encourage the maintenance of the normal curve in the lumber or lower area of the spine, which in turn encourages the same for the upper areas of the spine. They can be adjusted for depth of curve as well.
The same considerations are applicable in living room recliners: choose either a lumbar support built into the chair or use a support pillow (often available at department stores). The ACA endorses the Obusforme pillow, which can be moved from automobile to living room and even to an office chair. This is often a much less expensive way to deal with what can result in very troubling problems with the back. This Obusforme pillow can also be carried onto an airplane for use with airline seats, which usually have a poor configuration to backs.
Beaded seat covers in cars will encourage increased blood circulation and air circulation if used with an automobile bench-type seat. If used with a bucket-type seat, however, where movement is restricted, they may actually reduce circulation – both blood and air. Their use should be considered in relationship to the structure of the seating surface on which they are placed.
Most states require the use of car seats for children below the age of 4 and weighing under 40 pounds. However, these safety rules aimed at protecting children may cause serious neck and spinal injuries and can even be deadly if the child car seats are used incorrectly.
While car accidents can be dangerous for all passengers, small children are especially at risk. The weight of the head of a child makes the cervical spine much more vulnerable to injury. The infant has little control in the muscles of the neck, and the head can bounce from side to side and fall forward, which can cause serious spine and neck injuries.
The American Chiropractic Association and its Council on Occupational Health offer the following guidelines and safety tips to ensure proper car seat safety.
- Make sure the child safety seat is appropriate for the age and size of the child. A newborn infant requires a different seat from one used by a 3-year-old toddler.
- The car seat should always be rear facing as the forces and impact of a crash will be spread more evenly along the back and shoulders, providing more protection for the neck.
- Car seats should always be placed in the back seat of the car. This is especially important in cars equipped with air bags. If an air bag becomes deployed, the force could seriously injure or kill a child or infant placed in the front seat.
- Make sure the car seat is properly secured to the seat of the vehicle and is placed at a 45-degree angle to support the head of the infant or child.
- The lap harness should be fastened low, as close to the hips as possible; the harness should never be fastened around the waist.
- Make certain the shoulder harness is fastened securely and the straps lie flat against the body. Twisted straps can cause additional injury and might prevent the seat from working properly.
- Use a retention clip (if provided by the manufacturer) when securing a child safety seat with the shoulder harness. The retention or shoulder harness clip is an added safety feature and must be fastened close to the armpit of the infant or child.
- Be sure the seat meets federal motor vehicle safety seat standards. Consult the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for this information. All car seats should have an owner’s manual and instruction booklet.
- Be sure the clip between the legs of the child is fastened snugly.
Borrowing or purchasing a used car seat can be dangerous; there is the possibility of unknown or undetected damage. Car seats that have been in a serious accident should never be used again.
If you or one of your children is involved in a serious automobile accident resulting in neck and back discomfort, you should consider consulting a chiropractor.