Upper Extremity Fracture Patterns Following Motor Vehicle Crashes Differ for Drivers and Passengers

Injury patterns of occupants in motor vehicle crashes are changing, with upper extremity injury becoming more common in patients treated at trauma centers. Although not life threatening, upper extremity injuries may result in long-term disability, including chronic deformity, neurovascular compromise and degenerative arthritis. The purpose of this study was to compare upper extremity injury in drivers and passengers using the Crash Injury Research Engineering Network (CIREN) database. CIREN data were used to compare upper extremity skeletal injury patterns and sources for drivers and passengers in frontal and side impacts. Occupant variables (age, gender, co-morbidity, avoidance maneuvers and restraint use) and crash variables (direction of impact, delta V and vehicle crush) were considered in the analysis. Results showed that only 24.8% of all occupants in the CIREN database had upper extremity injuries. One-half of upper extremity injuries to drivers were forearm fractures compared to one-third for passengers. Occupants in side impacts were more likely to have clavicle fractures, even while controlling for driver versus passenger status and safety belt use. Air bags were more likely to be a source of forearm fracture when controlling for driver versus passenger status, direction of force, sex and age compared to other sources. Only 10% of driver fractures with air bag deployment in frontal impacts were associated with air bag fling. This study found that drivers and passengers have different upper extremity injury patterns but the direction of impact also plays an important role.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Abstract reprinted with permission of Elsevier.
  • Authors:
    • Conroy, Carol
    • Schwartz, Alexandra
    • Hoyt, David B
    • Eastman, A Brent
    • Pacyna, Sharon
    • Holbrook, Troy Lisa
    • Vaughan, Teresa
    • Sise, Michael
    • Kennedy, Frank
    • Velky, Tom
    • Erwin, Steve
  • Publication Date: 2007-3


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01050076
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 30 2007 2:39PM