The Influence of Air Bags and Restraining Devices on Extremity Injuries in Motor Vehicle Collisions.

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The influence of air bags and other restraining devices on injury after motor vehicle collisions is not well defined. This study examined the relationship between the use of restraining devices and the incidence of extremity injuries in motor vehicle collisions. A retrospective analysis was performed on motor vehicle collision data submitted to the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study database from 1990 through 1995. Criteria for submission included trauma patients who were admitted to the intensive care unit, who died during hospitalization, who were hospitalized for more than 72 hours, or who were transferred in or out of the receiving hospital. A total of 21,875 patients met these criteria. These patients were analyzed for the presence or absence of upper and lower extremity injuries and were compared based on their use of restraining devices. Restraining devices were categorized into four groups: air bag alone, air bag and seat belt, seat belt or carseat without air bag, and no restraining device. Statistical analysis was performed using the chi-squared test of association. For contingency tables with small expected frequencies, Fisher's exact test was used. Study participants included 11,688 men and 10,185 women with a mean age of 38 +/- 20 years. There were 16,033 drivers and 5,842 passengers. Air bags were deployed in 472 instances. In 297 of these cases, additional restraint was provided with a seat belt. In 6,632 cases, air bags were not deployed; however, patients were restrained with either a seat belt or a carseat. In 14,771 cases, patients were not restrained. When comparing restraining devices as a group vs. no restraint, there was a significant decrease in the incidence of upper (p = 0.018) and lower (p < 0.001) extremity injuries. Air bags, however, were associated with an increased incidence of both upper (p = 0.033) and lower (p = 0.002) extremity injuries when compared with no restraint or when compared among patients who were restrained. As a group, restraining devices decrease the incidence of upper and lower extremity trauma sustained by patients injured in motor vehicle collisions. Air bags, however, are associated with an increased incidence of upper and lower extremity injuries when compared with seat belts alone or when no restraining devices are used.





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Medicine and Health Sciences | Other Medical Specialties | Surgery




Department of Surgery, Department of Surgery Faculty

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