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Seat Belts and Air Bags Together Are Key to Preventing Spine Fractures During Motor Vehicle Accidents

New information in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine offers convincing evidence that the combined use of seat belts and air bags is the best protection that auto accident victims can have from sustaining spine fractures. The findings are based on an examination of over 20,000 motor vehicle crash victims who were treated in Wisconsin hospitals between 1994 and 2002.

According to the study:
• The number one cause of spinal cord injuries is motor vehicle accidents.
• Becoming involved in an auto crash in a vehicle equipped with air bags and while using a seat belt lowered the chances of an accident victim sustaining a spine fracture.
• Just 14% of the drivers and front seat passengers who were victims of motor vehicle crashes had the protection of both a seat belt and an air bag.
• 38% of the accident victims were not using seat belts.
• Out of the 2,530 victims with spine fractures who were part of the study, 64 of them died in hospitals.
• Kinds of spine fractures: 1,067 of them were cervical fractures, 1,034 were lumbosacral fractures, and 565 were thoracic fractures.
• Auto accident victims that were using an air bag and not a seat belt had a greater chance of sustaining a severe thoracic spine fracture.

Evidence from the study was based on information about air bag and seat belt usage combined with spine fracture incidences. Some 20,276 auto accident victims were part of the study. All of the individuals had be either front seat passengers or drivers, 16 years of age or older. They also had to not have been thrown from the vehicle during the crash, and complete ICD-9CM data had to be provided.

One of the authors of the study, Marjorie C. Wang, MD, MPH from the Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, says that federal and state governments should dedicate more resources toward making sure that motor vehicle occupants use air bags and seat belts together.

Spinal Fractures
A spinal fracture is when at least one vertebrae in the back or neck breaks. While many spine fracture cases are not serious enough to warrant surgery, more serious spinal fractures can result in spinal cord injuries, paralysis, severe pain, and death. Failing to treat existing fractures can lead to progressed deformity and the ability to live a healthy, normal life.

Research: Air Bags/Seat Belts Important in Preventing Spine Fractures, Huliq News, January 26, 2009
Spinal Fractures, Spine Universe.com

Related Web Resources:

Journal of Neurology: Spine

Spinal Cord Injuries, Medline Plus
If you sustained a spinal fracture or a spinal cord injury because you were in a Massachusetts motor vehicle accident caused by a negligent motorist, call our Boston personal injury lawyers today.