Are frontal-impact car crashes more dangerous than other types of collisions? The answer might surprise you.
When people get in car accidents, just how often do they really injure their middle and lower spine?
Until recent join research performed by doctors from the Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Maryland, and US Department of Transportation, no one’s really understood the truth.
And you’ll be surprised by the results they found.
Why Did Researchers Do This Study Anyway?
Up until this research was performed, no one had done any injury assessment for thoracic (mid-chest) or lumbar (lower) spine injuries. That’s not just true in America – it’s true throughout the entire world. The information from this study could then be used to inform auto manufacturers so they can make safer vehicles and government bodies so they can change regulatory standards.
You could also use the information so you drive safer and reduce your chances of experiencing serious injuries to these areas of your spine.
Are injuries to these areas of your spine more frequent, less frequent, or about the same as any other injury?
Well, no one has known.
So even though this sounds like not a huge deal at first, it could end up being quite a big deal after gathering the data.
For example, Americans 65+ sustain spinal injuries at 5 times the rate of younger Americans. With that knowledge you can look much more carefully at a car’s safety when purchasing it, if you fall in that older age range.
The Startling Data Researchers Found
When gathering the data, researchers corrected for factors like age, sex, seat belt and air bag use, vehicle type, severity of the damage, and location of the crash. In other words, they accounted for these factors affecting these injuries so it couldn’t be that any of them would skew the data.
You could rest assured that the data found tells an accurate story of the truth.
Ultimately, researchers found about 2000 – 4000 occupants in front-impact crashes experienced thoracic and lumbar vertebral fractures per year.
This compares to less than 2000 occupants with other spinal fractures per year in all other crash types – combined.
Additionally, the data found the most common injuries are to the T12 and L1 vertebrae.
This diagram shows their location:
Image Credit: Braceability
Why Should You Care and What Should You Do?
Well, these injuries occur at a much higher rate than any other type of spinal injury. And this includes all other types of impact when you’re driving.
You can’t control whether you have a car crash, nor can you control where it comes from. But when you do drive, remain particularly aware of potential ways you could get in an accident with frontal impact to your car. And do everything you can to keep that from happening to you.
Just a slight turn of your wheel could mean the difference between a severe spinal injury – and years of recovery and medical bills – and just some bruises and pain that last a few weeks.
…And hopefully you’ll see auto manufacturers doing more to protect you from frontal auto accidents in the near future!
Stay safe out there.
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Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.