Aging motorists at greater risk of injury, death

Published: Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 17:39 [IST]

Washington, April 6 (ANI): Aging motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injuries or death in road accidents compared to their younger counterparts, a new American study has warned.

The study, conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center, appeared in the March issue of the American Surgeon.

The study team found the average age of motorcyclists involved in crashes increased from approximately 34 to 39 years between 1996 and 2005 and the proportion of injured riders above the age of 40 increased from around 28 percent to close to 50 percent.

Of all injured riders included in the study, 50- to 59-year-olds represented the fastest growing group, while 20- to 29-year-olds were the most rapidly declining.

Mark Gestring, director of the trauma program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said: "We made the clinical observation that older patients - people in their 50's, 60's and even 70's - were being injured on motorcycles with increasing frequency.

"We wanted to see if this observation was true on a national level and we found that it was."

For riders above the age of 40, injury severity, length of stay in the hospital or intensive care unit, and mortality were higher compared to riders below the age of 40.

The risk of dying was one-and-a-half to two times more likely in riders over 40, based on the severity of the original injury.

It was also noted older riders are more likely to die from less severe injuries than younger riders, to spend at least 24 hours in the intensive care unit, and to have more pre-existing co-morbidities and complications, such as heart attack and infections, that contribute to longer hospital stays.

Gestring said: "Treating a 60-year-old who has been in a motorcycle accident is very different from treating a 21-year-old who has been in a similar accident - 60-year-olds bring a lot more medical baggage with them, and this can adversely impact outcomes following injury.

"As people start to dust off their motorcycles this spring, older riders should take an extra measure of caution; if an accident happens they'll often pay a higher price than younger riders."

The increase in injury severity for older riders may be related to the reduced capacity to withstand injury as the body ages. Age-related changes, such as decreases in bone strength and brain size, may make older riders more susceptible to injury.

Other factors associated with aging, such as impaired vision, delayed reaction time, and altered balance contribute to motorcycle crashes in this population, explaining in part the researchers' finding that older riders crashed more often as a result of loss of control than younger riders.

For the study, researchers used the National Trauma Databank to review the records of 61,689 motorcyclists aged 17 to 89 years involved in a motorcycle crash between 1996 and 2005. (ANI)

 

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