University reveals “unique”, reactive, seating which cuts injuries and could be mass-produced at “affordable” sum.
Seat and headrest move during collision
A combined, reactive, seat and head restraint concept that minimises the risk of whiplash should a vehicle be struck from behind has been revealed at Loughborough University. Whiplash – engineers explained – is “soft tissue strain of the neck”. The cause is typically sudden, backward, movement of the victim's head.
On this basis, the head restraint moves higher and closer to the head to constrain its movement. The seat simultaneously slides backward to limit movement between the torso and head. The concept, therefore, manoeuvres to ensure the motorist has a optimal posture.
Simulations proved concept's effectiveness
Professor of Mechanics at the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, Memis Acar, claimed that simulation tests showed the concept could be “very effective at reducing the occurrence of whiplash”. Such experiments were carried out by Rickie Bewsher as part of his Mechanical Engineering Degree.
Professor Acar added: “Although whiplash is classed as a minor injury symptoms can last a long time; impacting not only on the nation’s health but also the economy. This is why it is important to limit the risk of whiplash injury.” The Government recently said that whiplash insurance claims cost the nation £2 billion per-year.
Professor Acar emphasised that the key to the concept's success is integrating a reactive head restraint with a reactive seat. “There is currently no other product in the automotive market that integrates these concepts”, he argued. The Professor further claimed that manufacturers could easily integrate it into vehicles.
He said: “What we are proposing is an affordable design which lends itself well to mass production for all car ranges. The use of mechanical linkages, which is not uncommon in some car seats, means that the whole system would be economical and easy to manufacture.”
Symptoms and longevity of whiplash
The National Health Service confirmed that whiplash symptoms “often” take 6 to 12 hours to develop and “may continue to get worse for some days” following the incident. Typical issues include: pain, tenderness, stiffness and loss of movement in the neck; headaches, muscle spasms plus pain in the arms and shoulders.
Rarer problems include: pain, numbness or pins and needles feeling in the arms and hands; lower back pain, dizziness and tiredness. Vertigo can be a problem too which – although commonly associated with a fear of heights – is, in fact, “the sensation that you're moving or spinning while standing still”, the Health Service added.
Furthermore, whiplash typically gets better on its own and is short lived. Only a “small number” of people have issues beyond 6 months.