Lower Extremity Injuries from a Motorcycle Crash
Your lower extremities refer to your legs, feet, ankles, knees, hip, and thighs. In a motorcycle accident, these areas of your body are the most commonly injured according to studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Leg fractures are the most prevalent type of lower extremity injury after soft tissue injuries. Lower extremity injuries include:
- Fractures of the tibia and fibula – these are the most common leg injuries from a motorcycle crash accounting for 95% of leg injuries. Other injuries include severe scarring or burns, partial or full amputation.
- Ankle injuries – if you only strained your ankle, consider yourself fortunate. About 90% of ankle injuries from a motorcycle accident involve fractures of the bony structures located at the ends of the leg bones.
- Knees – about 37% of injuries to knees in bike accidents are kneecap fractures. Around 18% are ligament tears or MCL or ACL tears.
- Pelvic fractures – when your legs are locked in a collision, they will not bend. The force of the trauma can force your legs out the back of the pelvis leading to a fracture. Major blood loss can result from a vertical shear injury, open book injury or lateral crush pelvic injury (half of the pelvis is crushed inward or outward).
- Hip fractures – these occur when you land on pavement or the bike lands on top of you. Surgery is usually required, and hip replacement may be necessary. Rehabilitation can be lengthy.
The NHTSA report on lower extremity injuries also calculated the average hospital cost of certain lower extremity injuries. For those riders who sustained single, isolated lower extremity injuries, the cost was $21,000 per patient. Patients who sustained multiple lower extremity injuries saw their costs rise to $39,000. Those who suffered injuries to the lower extremity in combination with other injuries had a median hospital cost of $56,000 per patient. Of course, these costs only include hospital expenses.
Most motorcycle accident patients with single, isolated lower extremity injuries were discharged after acute care. The cost of medications, rehabilitative or assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers were not included, nor were the costs of physical therapy, future surgeries, and possible new career training programs.