Orthopedic Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents

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November 09, 2012
Edward Smith

Level I trauma centers are certified for their ability to handle the worst trauma-related cases, such as severe car accident or motorcycle accidents. Most large metropolitan areas have at least one level I trauma center.

Fortunately, these centers can take on severe trauma victims and are best able to handle trauma cases with the right specialists with the background to handle severe trauma. In one study, the researchers looked at those motorcycle riders who were injured in a collision. These are usually the worst of the worst when it comes to trauma patients. While other injuries can occur, this study looked specifically at orthopedic injuries or fracture primarily, after a motorcycle accident.
There were more than 2600 cases of trauma and 151 of these were patients involved in a motorcycle collision. The researchers looked at a lot of variables such as the patient’s age and gender, the mechanism of injury, other injuries, the location of the injury, the number of surgeries needed and the number of times the patient needed to be readmitted to the hospital.

The researchers discovered that 71 percent of patients required an orthopedic consultation. This meant they had orthopedic fractures severe enough to need a specialist. The average age of the patients was 35 years of age. Men were injured 8 times more often than women. Most of the time, the injury was motorcycle versus automobile injuries (about 48 times).

A total of 206 fractures were found in a total of 108 patients. The lower extremities were fractured the most and in 110 fractures, the patient needed surgery for open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture. The remainder had closed reduction and casting or splinting of the fracture. Fifty two percent of patients suffered nasty open fractures which automatically need surgical intervention to clean out the wound and repair the fracture. Open fractures need emergency surgery to avoid the risk of infection later on.

Fifty three patients had other kinds of complications, some of which were more severe than the orthopedic injury. Two patients became deceased during the first hospitalization. The average length of stay was 11.9 days if there was no orthopedic consultation and 13.8 days if they had an orthopedic evaluation. A total of 1.6 surgical procedures were done by the orthopedist per patient per visit.

It’s clear that leg injuries are the most common complication of motorcycle accidents and that many of these patients are in the prime of their life at the time of the injury. The cost of these injuries to the patient, to insurance companies and to society at large is huge because these people stay in the hospital a long time and suffer from lower extremity injuries and closed head trauma, both of which are expensive to treat.
Lower extremity injuries and other motorcycle injuries do not come without the risk of permanent disability. Amputations are possible and permanent leg damage can result in the use of a cane or walker indefinitely. Other injuries, like closed head trauma can result in permanent brain damage and death.