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Auto Injury Prevention & Seatbelts

Auto Injury Prevention & Seatbelts - El Paso Chiropractor
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Spine injuries are frequently diagnosed in people who’ve been involved in an automobile accident. As a matter of fact, the auto accidents are the leading cause for spinal injuries on the mid back, or thoracic, and low back, or lumbar, regions of the spine.

In a study conducted between 1996 and 2011, the records of 4,572 individuals entered into the Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network database were evaluated by doctors. The individuals had suffered from moderate to severe auto accident injuries but they all shared one common factor.

From 631 individuals whom had experienced injuries to the thoracic and lumbar spine, approximately 47% of the individuals suffered major injury while 53% suffered minor injury. The individual’s injuries were identified according to their diagnosis. The injuries were diagnosed as flexion-distraction injuries, identified as an upper body injury commonly resulting when the head abruptly moves towards the knees during an automobile accident, or extension injuries, resulting when the body bends backwards.

Those who suffered flexion-distraction injuries during an auto accident were usually children or young adults while those who suffered from extension injuries were usually older adults averaging 65 years of age and were overweight. Through the research though, the doctors discovered that several individuals who only suffered minor injuries to the thoracic and lumbar spine had also sustained abdominal and pelvic injuries that were often much worse than their spinal injuries.

The research also compared the injury outcomes of people who were using a two-point belted seatbelt versus a three-point belted seatbelt during the auto accident. In people using the three-point seat belts, these protected them against neurological injury, fatality, and further complications but those wearing this type of seat belt were more than three times more likely to sustain spine fractures than those wearing the two-point seat belts. In people using the two-point seat belts, flexion-distraction injuries were most common. But ultimately, people who weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the automobile accident had a higher risk of suffering spinal fractures in the thoracic and lumbar regions as well as dislocations.

When it comes to auto accident safety, using seatbelts will reduce injury severity of mortality but at the same time, they can also increase the likelihood of spinal fractures in the thoracic and lumbar spine.

If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident, seeking proper medical and chiropractic care as soon as possible is crucial for treating any possible injuries. Immediate diagnosis and treatment can help speed up the rehabilitation process.


Rao, R.D., et al. Occupant and crash characteristics in the thoracic and lumbar spine injuries resulting from motor vehicle collisions. Spine Journal 2014

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