Motorcycle accidents tend to be relatively severe when compared to automobile accidents because the riders are vulnerable due to a lack of surrounding padding, airbags and steel. They are more likely to sustain an injury, including fractures, closed head trauma and internal injuries. One study looked at the interactions of age, type of injury, distribution of injury and injury severity in patients who were involved in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles County emergency rooms. There are fifteen emergency centers in Los Angeles County and the study included victims between January 1995 and December 2007.
The study collected the patient’s demographic data and looked at the Injury Severity Score, which involves injuries to the head, chest, extremities and abdomen. They looked at the number of deaths and for the presence of specific organ injuries. The ages were defined as being less than 18 years, 19-55 years and over 55 years.
They found 6530 admissions related to motorcycle crashes. A total of 493 or 7.5 percent were 18 years of age or younger, 86 percent or 5627 patients were between 19 and 55 years of age and only 6.5 percent or 398 were older than 55 years of age. Injury severity scores increased with age so that older people were more likely to be seriously injured when compared to younger people. Critical injuries occurred in 6.5 percent of those 18 and under, 12.3 percent in those 19-55 and 13.8 percent in those older than 55 years of age.
Those older than age 55 were more likely to sustain a severe head injury. Chest injuries that were severe grew with a stepwise fashion as one increased in age. Interestingly, more people died in the 19-55 year age group. The chances of dying were 2.3 times greater in the younger group of people. The chances of dying in those older than 55 were three times higher than in the younger age groups of people.
The researchers concluded that there was an age-related increase in severity of injury, distribution of severe injury and mortality rate. The patients older than 55 suffered more chest trauma, more head trauma and more spinal fractures than young people. They were more likely to die from their injuries. These didn’t include those who died at the scene and were not brought to the hospital at all but it can be inferred that this correlation between death and age remains in patients who die at the scene.
The researchers believe that more aggressive triage and management of patients older than 55 years of age need to be considered because most of these patients will have some form of severe trauma that could lead to death. Some of the injuries can be hidden, such as chest trauma, spinal trauma and head trauma. Close attention needs to be paid to the Glasgow Coma Scale to look for hidden head trauma and spine films need to be carefully assessed before the patient is moved.