Unusual Pattern of Spinal Injuries in San Francisco Airliner Crash - News - @ JEMS.com


Unusual Pattern of Spinal Injuries in San Francisco Airliner Crash

Worst of the injuries are crushed vertebrae and two passengers unable to move their legs.

 

 
 
 

LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer | | Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Many survivors of Saturday's plane crash in San Francisco have a surprising pattern of spine injuries that a doctor says shows how violently they were shaken despite wearing seat belts.

JEMS Asiana Airliner Crash Coverage

So far, two people are unable to move their legs — doctors don't yet know if the damage is permanent — and several others have needed surgery to stabilize their spines so they can move, said Dr. Geoffrey Manley, neurosurgery chief at San Francisco General Hospital who is overseeing their care.

Among the worst injuries are crushed vertebrae that compress the spinal cord, and ligaments so stretched and torn that they can't hold neck and back joints in place, Manley said in an interview Monday.

That 305 of the 307 passengers and crew of the Asiana jet survived the crash is remarkable, and a testimony to improvements in airline safety in recent years. More than 180 people went to hospitals with injuries, but only a small number were critically injured.

Still, Manley said even among those who suffered mild spine trauma, he is struck by a pattern that shows how their upper bodies were flung forward and then backward over the lap belts that kept them in their seats and undoubtedly saved their lives.

The injuries are somewhat reminiscent of the days before shoulder belts in cars, although much more severe, said Dr. David Okonkwo of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who isn't involved with the survivors' care.

Does that mean shoulder belts in airplanes would prevent such injuries? Okonkwo said that's simplistic considering how much more speed and force are involved in a plane crash. Shoulder belts might just transfer that force to the neck, he cautioned.

"If you put in the shoulder belt, it might just move the injuries up further. Your head weighs a tremendous amount," agreed San Francisco's Manley. He hopes to study the issue, comparing survivors' injuries to where they sat.

The airline industry says adding three-point seatbelts to airplanes would require major changes to seat design that would mean higher airfares and less comfort.

Some business class seats have added a type of shoulder restraint, but those seats are more like beds and often don't face forward.

Meanwhile, Okonkwo said assuming the "crash position" — leaning forward with the head as far down as possible and arms over it — can limit the spine jolting back and forth and offer some protection. It's not clear if any survivors of Saturday's crash had time to do so.

___

AP Airlines Writer Scott Mayerowitz contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, spinal injuries, Asiana Airlines Crash

 
What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Improving Survival from Cardiac Arrest Using ACD-CPR + ITD

Using active compression-decompression CPR with an ITD has been shown to improve 1-year survival from cardiac arrest by 33%.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Philadelphia Fire Department Apologizes for Medic’s Jab at Police

Union head calls photos a slap in the face of officers.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire and EMS Crews Blame New Technology for Patient’s Death

Delayed response blamed on recurring dispatch problems.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Suspect Steals, Crashes Maryland Ambulance

One killed, others injured in Prince George’s County crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee Trench Rescue

Worker pulled from Roane County worksite.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Time’s Ebola Firefighters

Doctors, nurses and others saluted for fighting virus.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Car Strikes Manhattan Pedestrians

Seven people hurt when car jumps curb.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >