Spinal Fractures From Motor Vehicle Accidents Can Be Prevented if Seat Belts are Used Along with Air Bags, Says New Research

January 28, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The chances of a motor vehicle occupant sustaining a spinal fracture decreases if the driver or front side passenger is wearing a seat belt and riding in a car equipped with air bags. This information comes from research gathered from records of over 20,000 auto accident victims who received medical attention at Wisconsin hospitals after t auto collisions that occurred between 1994 and 2002. The article, found in the latest issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, is called “The continued burden of spine fractures after motor vehicle crashes.”

A spinal fracture occurs when at least one vertebrae in the neck or back breaks. A serious spine fracture can cause a spinal cord injury, paralysis, or death. Auto accidents are the number one cause of SCIs. 2,530 of the accident victims who took part in the study had spinal fractures. 64 of them died while they were in hospitals.

The 20,276 study participants had to be older than 15 and were riding in the front of the vehicles when the auto collisions happened. They also could not have been ejected from the vehicle and their files had to come with complete ICD-9-CMs.

Among the study’s findings:
• Combined seat belt and air bag use provide added protection and lower the risk that an auto accident victim will sustain a spinal fracture
• 38% of the victims were not using seat belts when the auto collision happened.
• Just 14% of the study participants were equipped with both air bag and seat belt protection when the auto crash happened.
• Air bag use alone without a seat belt was linked to a greater risk of thoracic spine fracture injuries.
• Speeding and drunk driving were two of the major causes of these motor vehicle crashes studied.

SCI Facts
• 250,000 Americans have spinal cord injuries.
• 11,000 new injury cases happen each year.
• Common causes of spinal cord injuries include auto accidents, violent incidents, fall accidents, and sports-related accidents.

Research: Air Bags/Seat Belts Important in Preventing Spine Fractures, Huliq.com

Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Statistics, Sci-Info Pages

Related Web Resource:
Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine


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