Spinal Injuries in Motor Vehicle Accidents

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November 18, 2014
Edward Smith

The first study looks at the total count per year of spinal injuries in automobile crashes using data from 1994 to 2011. It looked at the rate of spinal cord injuries and fracture-dislocations of the vertebrae. Data from 1994-2011 was used to determine the rate of spine injuries for drivers and front seat passengers involved in a crash.

There were greater than 5,500 fracture dislocations and slightly more than 100 spinal cord injuries per year from automobile accidents. Most injuries occurred with collisions involving frontal impacts or vehicle rollovers; the least happened in rear accident. The overall rate in all accidents for spinal cord injury was at 0.054 percent and the greatestrate occurred in rollovers at 0.22 percent. For fracture dislocations of the spine, the greatest rate was 1.55 percent while the lowest rate was at 0.065 percent in rear impact accidents. Seat belt use gave an 81 percent effectiveness of reducing spinal cord injuries. The area where most injuries occurred was the C-spine (or cervical spine) which accounted for 66.3 percent of all injuries, while the thoracic spine accounted for 30.5 percent and the lumbar spine accounted for 3.2 percent. Serious head injuries happened 13.3 times more frequently than spinal cord injuries.

Basically, spinal cord injuries were present in one out of every 1,860 drivers and front seat passengers involved in a severe motor vehicle crashes. Seat belts helped reduce the risk of spinal cord injuries. Fracture dislocations happened at a rate 5.3 times as frequently as spinal cord injuries and seat belts prevented these types of interviews as well.http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-cervical-spine-front-image196847

Another study looked at the change in velocity and energy dissipation upon impact on the incidence of spine fractures, spinal cord injury, spinal cord fracture mortality and the other injury patterns in frontal and lateral motor vehicle accidents. There were 214 patients looked at spinal fractures or spinal cord injury who were compared to 938 patients who didn’t have these injuries. All were front seat passengers.

When the change in velocity and energy dissipation increased, injuries were greater. There were more cervical fractures than spinal injuries and more thoracic injuries than lumbar injuries. The incidence of spinal cord injury was highest in cervical spinal fractures at 33 percent, with thoracic spinal fractures having 18 percent spinal injuries and lumbar injuries at 2 percent. A total of 80 percent of all deaths from spinal cord injury occurred in cases of cervical spinal fractures and in 74 percent of all cases also exhibited brain injuries. The thoracic spinal fracture deaths were usually due to a combination of brain injury (45 percent), thoracic injuries (95 percent) and pelvic fractures (50 percent). The airbag or seatbelt protected a person at low changes of velocity but at high changes in velocity, there were times when the air bag or eat belt was responsible for the spinal injury.

The study concluded that better protection is needed for patients driving in higher change in velocity crashes.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney with the primary accident information site on the web, AutoAccident.com. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle collision, call me now at 916-921-6400. You can find out more about our office by looking either Yelp or on Avvo, the attorney raring site.