All About Neck Measurements- Zabdi Salazar

Vertabend is now at the prototyping stage. My team members Jordan and Karry have been working on a model of our neck support pillow, despite not having all of the materials we ordered. Zane and I, have been doing more biomedical research focused on how actual neck measurements are made to determine the dimensions of our pillow.

Original Picture by Zabdi Salazar.  Working on a prototype.
Original Picture by Zabdi Salazar.
Working on a prototype.

A major challenge we are currently trying to overcome is trying to figure out how to actually measure the angle of the neck. Since we are designing a neck support pillow, we need to consider how our purchased neck roll, which is 5 inches long, will bend the neck. This is a crucial aspect of our design since while the neck is being supported, where the head is placed will have a huge effect. Thus we need to think more about the thickness of the area of the pillow in which the head will be placed.

Our current research has found that in order to find the curvature of the cervical spine, radiography is most widely used. Chiropractors and other doctors who fix spinal alignment usually use this method.  Still, our biomedical teacher, Ms. Miesner has found some useful studies that might help us find how much our neck roll will affect the cervical spine. A specific article, The correlation between craniovertebral angle, backpack weights, and disability due to neck pain in adolescents, analyzed how backpacks have a significant effect on the posture of young adolescents. I was quite surprised how the average weight that students carry is about 22.0% to 27.5% of their own body weight. I was even astounded by the fact that 21% and 38% of females from 15-25 years of age have experienced neck pain for a six month period. This directly affects me, as I carry around a huge backpack that is probably more than 20 pounds, and I’ve felt quite sore lately. Furthermore, this article was interesting in the way that they measure head posture by using a device called the Head Posture Spinal Curvature Instrument (HPSCI).

Head Posture Spinal Curvature Instrument
Head Posture Spinal Curvature Instrument

This was used in order to gain the cranialvertebrae angle. The data collected would determine if head posture was associated with neck pain. The article stated that a subject had a forward head posture when their CV angle was smaller. The non-neck pain group also had also showed to have better head posture and ability to regulate backpack loads. For every 10% increased backpack weight that a student carries, this was found to significantly decrease the CV angle. Although the HPSCI device does not measure the neck directly, this still might be a useful tool when determining the position of the head when a device is placed underneath the neck for support. Unfortunately, this instrument is also very hard to find and purchase since it is used only by certain professions.

A new method for measuring spinal alignment is the Spinal Mouse. This instrument is quite expensive, and it requires knowledge on computer programming in order to take the angles of the spine. It is basically like a roller that travels up and down your spine while detecting angel measurements. Many studies have also found that this device may be more accurate than current X-rays. Another plus is its non-invasiveness and people would no longer be exposed to more radiation. The developers of this instrument claims that its software program uses complex algorithms in order to determine the curvatures of the spine.

Spinal Mouse
Spinal Mouse×249.jpg

Other research that I’ve found concerning methods for measuring neck curvature, include how chiropractors use protractors for spine angle measurements. This seems like a feasible way to measure the neck. Unfortunately, the sites that I have found do not go into depth about how they are using protractors to measure angles of the spine.

I also found how current spine aligning pillows use certain types of measurements in order to assess which size is best for the customer. Neck solutions determine the distance between the sides of the neck to the end of the shoulder. They use a ruler that determines the ranges of adults to children. This will also be one of the type of measurements that our pillow will need to consider.


C.H. Cheung, S.T. Shum, S.F. Tang, P.C. Yau, Thomas T.W. Chiu. “The correlation between craniovertebral angle, backpack weights, and disability due to neck pain in adolescents.” November 03, 2010.  Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation. December 4, 2014.

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