Cervical Spine Injuries Associated with the Incorrect Use of Airbags in Motor Vehicle Collisions

This article reports on a study undertaken to determine the rate of cervical spine injuries with correct and incorrect use of front driver and passenger-side airbags. The authors searched the database from the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation for drivers and front-seat passenger injuries sustained from 1990 to 2002. The resulting records were then grouped into those using both seatbelt and the airbag, airbag-only, seatbelt-only, and no restraints categories. Results showed that the drivers using the airbag-only had a significantly higher rate (54.1%) of cervical fractures than those using both airbag and a seatbelt (42.1%). Overall, drivers using the airbag-alone were 1.7 times more likely to suffer a cervical spine fracture than those using both protective devices. Similarly, passengers using the airbag-alone were 6.7 times more likely to suffer from a cervical spine fracture with spinal cord injury than those using both protective devices. In addition, the injury severity indexes, which included the Glasgow coma scale, Injury Severity Score, Intensive Care Unit stays, and Total Hospital days, were significantly worse in patients who used an airbag-only. The authors conclude that use of the seatbelt in conjunction with the airbag, as well as maintaining at least 10 inches between the steering column and the sternum may decrease injury severity and the rate of airbag-induced cervical spine and spinal cord injuries.

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  • Authors:
    • Donaldson, William F
    • Hanks, Stephen E
    • Nassr, Ahmad
    • Vogt, Molly T
    • Lee, Joon Y.
  • Publication Date: 2008-3-15


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 631-634
  • Serial:
    • Spine
    • Volume: 33
    • Issue Number: 6
    • Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    • ISSN: 0362-2436

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01108922
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 22 2008 8:42AM