Time to stabilisation of the cervical spine when supported by a pillow in side lying

When a person rests their head on a pillow, gravitational forces cause compression of the pillow content and creep of the soft tissues and viscoelastic spinal ligaments until equilibrium is reached. Currently, there is little information to guide consumers, retailers or health professionals about the length of time it takes for the cervical spine to stabilise when resting on a pillow.

Establishing the amount of time for cervical spine stabilisation would provide information about the amount of time required to trial a pillow in the retail setting, ensuring more accurate assessment of pillow support and comfort prior to purchase.

The authors aim for this study was to determine the time required to achieve stabilisation of the cervical spine when supported by a polyester pillow and innerspring mattress in side lying.

Twenty-four asymptomatic females rested in a standardised side lying position during the capture of 3D data from markers placed over cervical landmarks. Time to stabilisation was assessed for each axis, each landmark and globally for each participant. A large variation in global stabilisation times was identified between participants; however, 70.8% of participants had stabilised by 15 min or earlier. Fifteen minutes is the best estimate of the time to stabilisation of the cervical spine for young females in a side lying position when resting on a polyester pillow.

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