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Spine Institute
Glendale Adventist Medical Center
1500 E. Chevy Chase Drive, Suite 401B
Glendale, CA 91206
Ph: (818) 863-4444

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Head-Turning News about Neck Motion

Posted on: 11/30/1999
Every day, most of us turn, bend, and twist our necks without thinking about it. The joints of the neck move smoothly while we wash our hair, read a newspaper, or tie our shoes. For people with neck problems, these actions aren't easy. Arthritis, aging, and other diseases can change the way we move during everyday activities.

Physical therapists know how much motion is present in the healthy, adult neck. What they want to know is how much neck motion is needed for certain activities. A new study reports the results of measuring neck motion in young, healthy adults. Various daily activities were studied.

Each person in the study was measured while talking on the phone, crossing the street, and backing up a car. Neck flexion, extension, twisting, and bending sideways were measured. A total of 13 daily activities were included. The tasks that needed the greatest full neck motion were tying shoes, backing up a car, and washing hair in a shower.

Surprisingly, some tasks didn't require as much motion as expected. Activities such as reading a newspaper, reaching overhead, and writing at a table were in this group. Some tasks used a combination of movements. For example, while pouring from a pitcher, the neck is bent to the side, rotated, and flexed forward.

Physical therapists help patients with neck problems to regain movement and function. They use their knowledge of normal motion to do this. Adding information about motion needed for daily activities will help them know what's required and reasonable.

Susan E. Bennett, et al. Active Range of Motion Utilized in the Cervical Spine to Perform Daily Functional Tasks. In Journal of Spinal Disorders. August 2002. Vol. 15. No. 4. Pp. 307-311.

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