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Journal Article


Martinez R, Sharieff G, Hooper J. J. Trauma 1994; 37(6): 980-984.


Department of Surgery, Stanford University Hospital, California 94304.


(Copyright © 1994, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins)






As the number of drivers over the age of 65 years increases, new trauma patterns are emerging. The use of lap-shoulder restraints, in this population, is beginning to play an important role in new findings about their injuries. Restraint use in motor vehicle crash victims, in relation to average AIS score, ISS, and number of hospital and ICU days, was studied at a level I trauma center. The control group consisted of 100 patients between the ages of 35 and 45 years, who were involved in motor vehicle impacts (MVIs) from January 1990 through January 1992. The study group consisted of 120 patients over the age of 65 years who were involved in MVIs from January 1987 through January 1992. In the control group, restraint use was associated with a lower average AIS score--3.39 versus 7.35 for the unrestrained victims. In addition, the restrained victims spent fewer days in the ICU--0.08 versus 0.30 days for the unrestrained victims; and fewer hospital days--1.08 versus 2.0 days for the unrestrained victims. The general pattern of lower average AIS scores in restrained victims was also seen in the study group. However, in the study group, lap-shoulder belt-restrained patients had higher average AIS scores, in the chest region, than unrestrained patients--0.92 (SE 1.60) versus 0.71 (SE 1.47), respectively. These findings indicate that physicians must be aware of restraint patterns of chest injury in elderly patients. Aggressive triage criteria and vigorous pulmonary toilet, especially in patients with rib fractures, sternal fractures, and pulmonary contusions, should become integral parts of trauma resuscitation protocols in elderly patients.


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