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UK Engineers Design New Whiplash-Reducing Car Seat

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Ronald Reagan Willys CJ-6 Front Seats

Pictured: definitely not whiplash reduction

When you are involved in a car accident, it isn’t always the other car hitting you that causes injury—the force transferred through the car by the collision can often cause injuries, whether or not you were in danger of being physically impacted by the other vehicle.

One of these injuries in particular is called whiplash. Whiplash most often occurs in rear-end collisions, and is the result of rapid, back-and-forth neck movement, essentially cracking your head like a whip. Depending on the severity of the collision, whiplash can cause a range of symptoms, from a simple sore neck and some stiffness all the way to tingling or numbness in arms, difficulty concentrating, or memory problems. This type of injury is the reason why race car drivers have head and body restraints, as well as a large headrest. Typically, people can recover from whiplash (it is considered a relatively minor, although long-lasting, injury), but not without a fair amount of pain, suffering, and expense.

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To combat this problem, engineers at Loughborough University in England have created a unique car seat (for the driver, not like these ones for little kids) that they believe could lessen the effects of or prevent whiplash altogether. It basically works by reducing the difference in motion between the victim’s head and body in a collision.The seat contains a damper to absorb impact energy from the collision, while the head restraint moves up and forward, closer to the head, before whiplash can strike. The seat itself rotates rearward in a controlled manner to limit the amount of back-and-forth motion. This combination of systems is unique among automotive market seats.

Of course, it may be some time before we might see these seats come into use, but in the meantime, the seat’s designs have been published in the International Journal of Crashworthiness.

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News Sources: Science Daily, The Mayo Clinic