Motocross-associated head and spine injuries in adult patients evaluated in an emergency department

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Motor vehicle–related injuries (including off-road) are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and acute traumatic spinal cord injury in the United States.


To describe motocross-related head and spine injuries of adult patients presenting to an academic emergency department (ED).


We performed an observational cohort study of adult ED patients evaluated for motocross-related injuries from 2010 through 2015. Electronic health records were reviewed and data extracted using a standardized review process.


A total of 145 motocross-related ED visits (143 unique patients) were included. Overall, 95.2% of patients were men with a median age of 25 years. Sixty-seven visits (46.2%) were associated with head or spine injuries. Forty-three visits (29.7%) were associated with head injuries, and 46 (31.7%) were associated with spine injuries. Among the 43 head injuries, 36 (83.7%) were concussions. Seven visits (16.3%) were associated with at least 1 head abnormality identified by computed tomography, including skull fracture (n = 2), subdural hematoma (n = 1), subarachnoid hemorrhage (n = 4), intraparenchymal hemorrhage (n = 3), and diffuse axonal injury (n = 3). Among the 46 spine injuries, 32 (69.6%) were acute spinal fractures. Seven patients (4.9%) had clinically significant and persistent neurologic injuries. One patient (0.7%) died, and 3 patients had severe TBIs.


Adult patients evaluated in the ED after motocross trauma had high rates of head and spine injuries with considerable morbidity and mortality. Almost half had head or spine injuries (or both), with permanent impairment for nearly 5% and death for 0.7%.

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