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Improper Seat Belt Use Can Lead to Pediatric Spinal Fractures

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Home Improper Seat Belt Use Can Lead to Pediatric Spinal Fractures

Improper Seat Belt Use Can Lead to Pediatric Spinal Fractures

kid seatbelt

Children are often prone to improper seat belt use because they find them uncomfortable, particularly if they are too short to wear the shoulder restraint around their shoulders. Sometimes, kids even remove the shoulder restraint entirely to get more comfortable. This opens them up to various traumatic injuries, including a bone fracture of the spinal cord called a Chance fracture, if an auto accident occurs. This fracture develops in spinal cords that have not yet reached their full maturity, such as those in children.

An Overview of Chance Fractures

Chance fractures are fractures that develop when people flex their spinal cord too far. In this scenario, flexion of the spinal cord occurs when people bend over to touch their toes. If children are restrained in a vehicle by only a lap belt and not properly wearing their shoulder restraint, they could rapidly be forced over if the car stops short, such as in a collision. In this case, the cord would go further than it was meant to go and potentially fracture the vertebrae. This kind of fracture is called a Chance fracture and can lead to complications.

The Study Results

Researchers looked at all of the various Chance fractures that had come through their institution in recent years. In the study, they found 26 patients that met the study criteria. About 14 of the patients had worn only a lap belt. Seven patients correctly used their seat belt. Five patients said that they had misused the seat belt in some way. The ages of the participants ranged from three years of age to 16 years of age.

In addition to the Chance fractures, 11 of the patients had abdominal injuries to internal organs. Seven of the patients had neurological injuries that had resulted from damage to the spinal cord that took place with the fracture. This shows that patients who wear only a lap belt or misuse their seat belts are more likely to suffer a Chance fracture. However, there is a small chance that patients who use their seat belt properly could suffer this injury as well. Furthermore, additional injuries can result from the Chance fractures that patients should be aware of.

The Significance of the Study

This is an interesting study because it focuses solely on children. While it is well-known that everyone should wear a seatbelt while riding in a motor vehicle, it puts some objective data behind this claim. Furthermore, it demonstrates that not only should people wear a seat belt while operating or using a motor vehicle but that they should also use the seat belt correctly. The study points out that children who do not properly use a shoulder restraint or that wear a lap belt alone can suffer some extreme trauma, such as injuries to abdominal organs and spinal cord, leading to some adverse outcomes.

With this data in hand, parents should make sure that they listen to their pediatricians and use the proper restraints for kids in the car. Kids should be in a car seat or booster seat until they reach either the age or the weight limit. Kids who are too short for the regular seat are unable to use a shoulder restraint properly.

They may also find the shoulder restraint uncomfortable or feel like the seat belt is choking them. This makes them prone to taking off the shoulder restraint and making themselves vulnerable to the injuries discussed in the study above. Parents should take the time to make sure that their kids are properly using the correct safety measures. This maximizes the opportunity for a safe ride and a positive outcome if a motor vehicle accident occurs.

Watch YouTube Video: Keeping Children Safe in Crashes: Adult Belts. This video educates parents on reducing injuries to their kids by adequately securing them with an adult seat belt.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Seat belts can help save lives. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call our injury lawyers for free, friendly advice at 916.921.6400 or (800) 404-5400.

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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 4.6.21]

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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