PATTERNS OF FRACTURE AFTER AIR BAG DEPLOYMENT

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Abstract

The airbag restraint system has been described as a means of reducing fatalities in frontal crashes. This conclusion is based on crash investigations and statistical extrapolation, but few data exist to document specific fracture patterns and injuries after airbag depolyment. Seven cases of driver's side airbag depolyment after motor vehicle crashes were studied for extent of injury, Unrestrained (non-seatbeited) drivers demonstrated flexion injuries of the cervical and thoracic spine and direct impaction fractures of the face and sternum. One restrained (lap-shoulder belt) driver demonstrated an extension injury of the upper cervical spine. What may emerge from further study is a decrease in fatalities, but also a pattern of fractures specific to airbag use.

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