The effect of wearing a restrictive neck brace on driver performance

Christopher J. Barry, Darin Smith, Peter Lennarson, Julie Jermeland, Warren Darling, Laura Stierman, Matthew Rizzo, Vincent C. Traynelis, Mark N. Hadley, Volker K.H. Sonntag, Regis W. Haid, Edward C. Benzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Thousands of Americans are prescribed cervical orthoses each year. These orthoses restrict motion, which may influence the patient's driving performance. No legal restrictions exist that prohibit patients from wearing cervical orthoses while driving. No study addressing this issue has been published to date. Thus, we sought to assess the effects of wearing a restrictive neck brace on driver performance on the open road. METHODS: We conducted a prospective, randomized block design study in 23 volunteers. Twenty-three adult licensed drivers from the state of Iowa were recruited. Evaluation of neck motion was performed with and without the rigid cervical orthosis. On-road performance testing was conducted with the use of a state-of-the-art mobile laboratory. Drivers were randomly assigned to one of two testing groups. Each driver was evaluated during two separate drives. Volunteers in Group A (n = 11) wore a neck brace for the first drive but not during the second. Participants in Group B (n = 12) did not wear a neck brace in the first drive but did for the second. The assessment included velocity, acceleration, cervical axial rotation, and evaluation of the driver's blind spot. RESULTS: Driving performance measures were collected and analyzed for both drives. Wearing a cervical orthosis resulted in decreased velocity (P < 0.05), decreased lateral acceleration (P < 0.05), decreased axial rotation (P < 0.05), inadequate evaluation of intersection traffic, and an increase in the blind spot. CONCLUSION: A rigid cervical orthosis alters driver performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-102
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cervical orthosis
  • Driving
  • Randomized study
  • Transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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