Alarming Pattern of Spinal Injuries in Asiana Airlines Crash
With two passengers reported as being unable to move their legs due to spinal injuries sustained in the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, doctors have begun to comment on an emerging pattern of spinal injuries caused by the aircrafts seatbelts.
More Spinal Injuries Confirmed in Asiana Airlines Crash
- 2 reports of paralysis; doctors are unsure if the patients’ conditions will be permanent.
- Injuries include crushed vertebrae that compress the spinal cord.
- Reports of the spinal process, the small bone you can feel on the back of your neck, being cracked in half on some passengers.
- Ligaments stretched and torn so bad that they can no longer hold joints in the back and neck in place.
- Even passengers without obvious fractures are in danger of becoming paralyzed as stretched ligaments are unable to support the spinal cord.
Side Effects of Spinal Injury
Click here for more information on spinal cord injuries, provided by CNN Health.
- Impaired breathing
- Difficulty walking and maintaining balance
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Muscle atrophy
- Increase in risks of blood clots
- Nerve, joint, and muscle pain
- Significant increase in rates of anxiety and depression
Seatbelts Being Investigated
Doctors have begun to identify the aircraft’s seatbelts as a variable in the spinal injuries. While doctors are sure and thankful that the seatbelts saved the lives of many passengers, Dr. Geoffrey Manly of the San Francisco General Hospital commented to news outlets that he was struck by patterns that show how passengers’ bodies were flung forward and backward.
Assuming ‘crash position’ is supposed to reduce these kinds of injuries in aviation accidents, but it does not appear that the passengers in the crash had adequate time to do so as there have been no reports of announcements made in the moments preceding impact.
Dr. David Okonkwo, of the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, pointed out that the injuries sustained are reminiscent of the days before shoulder belts in cars, only much more severe due to the increase in force put on the bodies. He does, however, warn that shoulder belts should not be added to the seats without further research.
Three-point belts may be a more viable option; however, the airline industry states that the incorporation of three-point seat belts would require drastic changes to airline seats resulting in discomfort and higher airfares.
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