Sharon Pacyna

University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States

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Publications (10)16.05 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Data from crashes investigated through the Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network (CIREN) Program were used to assess differences in injury patterns, severity, and sources for drivers, protected by safety belts and deploying steering wheel air bags, in head-on frontal impacts. We studied whether exterior vehicle damage with a different distribution (wide vs. narrow) across the front vehicle plane influenced injury characteristics. Drivers from both impact types were similar on the basis of demographic characteristics (except age), restraint use, and vehicle characteristics. There were significant differences in the type of object contacted and intrusion into the passenger compartment at the driver's seat location. The mean delta V (based on the kilometers per hour change in velocity during the impact) was similar for drivers in both (wide vs. narrow) impact types. There were no significant differences in injury patterns and sources except that drivers in wide impacts were almost 4 times more likely (odds ratio (OR)=3.81, 95% confidence limits (CL) 1.26, 11.5) to have an abbreviated injury scale (AIS) 3 serious or greater severity head injury. Adjusted odds ratios showed that drivers in wide impacts were less likely (OR=0.54, 95% CI 0.37, 0.79) to have severe injury (based on injury severity score (ISS)>25) when controlling for intrusion, vehicle body type, vehicle curb weight, age, proper safety belt use, and delta V. Drivers with intrusion into their position or who were driving a passenger vehicle were almost twice more likely to have severe injury, regardless of whether the frontal plane damage distribution was wide or narrow. Our study supports that the type of damage distribution across the frontal plane may be an important crash characteristic to consider when studying drivers injured in head-on motor vehicle crashes.
    Accident Analysis & Prevention 08/2008; 40(4):1589-94. · 1.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In spite of improvements in motor vehicle safety systems and crashworthiness, motor vehicle crashes remain one of the leading causes of brain injury. The purpose of this study was to determine if the damage distribution across the frontal plane affected brain injury severity of occupants in frontal impacts. Occupants in "head on" frontal impacts with a Principal Direction of Force (PDOF) equal to 11, 12, or 1o'clock who sustained serious brain injury were identified using the Crash Injury Research Engineering Network (CIREN) database. Impacts were further classified based on the damage distribution across the frontal plane as distributed, offset, and extreme offset (corner). Overall, there was no significant difference for brain injury severity (based on Glasgow Coma Scale<9, or brain injury AIS>2) comparing occupants in the different impact categories. For occupants in distributed frontal impacts, safety belt use was protective (odds ratio (OR)=0.61) and intrusion at the occupant's seat position was four times more likely to result in severe (Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)<9) brain injury (OR=4.35). For occupants in offset frontal impacts, again safety belt use was protective against severe brain injury (OR=0.25). Possibly due to the small number of brain-injured occupants in corner impacts, safety belts did not significantly protect against increased brain injury severity during corner impacts. This study supports the importance of safety belt use to decrease brain injury severity for occupants in distributed and offset frontal crashes. It also illustrates how studying "real world" crashes may provide useful information on occupant injuries under impact circumstances not currently covered by crash testing.
    Accident Analysis & Prevention 08/2008; 40(4):1569-75. · 1.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Motor vehicle related trauma is one of the leading causes of traumatic death. Although most of these deaths are because of severe blunt force trauma, there are people without severe injury who die of asphyxia related to the motor vehicle collision. There were 37 deaths because of motor vehicle related asphyxia in San Diego County during 1995-2004. Almost half (48.6%) of these deaths were because of compression asphyxia, 29.7% were positional asphyxia deaths, and 16.2% died of a combination of compression and positional asphyxia. We were unable to classify the mechanism of asphyxia for the remaining 5.4% of asphyxia deaths. Almost all occupants dying from asphyxia were involved in rollover crashes and may have been incapacitated by obesity, drug or alcohol intoxication, or blunt force trauma. Compression asphyxia deaths occurred both from vehicle crush with intrusion into the passenger compartment and from ejection of the occupant and subsequent crushing by the vehicle. Positional asphyxia occurred in positions interfering with normal respiration, including inversion. None of the occupants had injury severe enough to result in death at the scene if they had not first died of asphyxia. This study suggests classifying the mechanism of asphyxia for these fatalities may be a challenge to forensic pathologists who seldom see these rare deaths.
    The American journal of forensic medicine and pathology: official publication of the National Association of Medical Examiners 03/2008; 29(1):14-8. · 0.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Motor vehicle rollover crashes result in complex occupant kinematics with the potential for severe injury. Five cases of fatal asphyxia in occupants suspended from their safety belt upside down after a rollover crash are presented. These fatalities accounted for 13.5% of all motor vehicle related asphyxia deaths in San Diego County over a 10-year period. This study supports previous research noting that incapacitation due to other injuries, alcohol, or obesity may be associated with fatal positional asphyxia due to inversion during rollovers. Safety belts are proven to prevent serious injury in motor vehicle crashes and should always be worn. However, redesign of the buckle could be considered to permit easier release by an occupant. We also suggest that pre-existing heart disease may contribute to the possibility of a fatal asphyxia outcome. Although this is a rare cause of motor vehicle related death, our results suggest that these are potentially preventable deaths.
    The American journal of forensic medicine and pathology: official publication of the National Association of Medical Examiners 01/2008; 28(4):330-2. · 0.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Liver injuries (LIs) are one of the most serious and common consequences of motor vehicle crashes (MVCs). In the unstable patient, early detection of LI based on clinical suspicion will improve acute trauma care and outcomes. The specific objectives of this analysis are to identify crash scene and occupant risk factors for LI from MVC. Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network data were used to identify risk factors for LI; age, sex, safety belt use, air bag deployment, DeltaV (change in velocity), principal direction of force, vehicle crush, and intrusion. Occupants with LI were compared with four control groups without LI; (1) no abdominal (ABD) injury (NO_ABD), (2) any ABD (ANY_ABD), (3) ABD Abbreviated Injury Scale score of 1 to 2 (ABD_1-2), and (4) ABD Abbreviated Injury Scale score of 3 or more (ABD_3+). LI occupants were compared with each control group and odds ratios (OR) for risk of LI were computed. There were 311 Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network subjects aged 5 or more years with LI. The total mean Injury Severity Score was 37.6. LI was strongly and significantly associated with safety belt restraint use without air bag deployment, compared with each control group: Liver injury - restrained + air bag not deployed versus (1) NO_ABD, N = 1,519; OR = 4.4, (2) ANY_ABD, N = 317; OR = 2.6, (3) ABD_1 to 2, N = 155; OR = 3.1, (4) ABD_3+, N = 217; OR = 2.4 (p < 0.001). This association was independent of driver or passenger status and principal direction of force. LIs were also strongly and significantly associated with greater vehicle interior intrusion. LIs were strongly associated with a safety belt restraint in use in the absence of air bag deployment during MVC. This data may have profound importance to the trauma surgeon as an early indicator for LI during resuscitation. These findings also have important implications for future research efforts to improve safety systems in motor vehicles and reduce morbidity and mortality from MVCs in the United States.
    The Journal of trauma 08/2007; 63(2):300-6. · 2.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The calcaneous is the largest tarsal bone in the foot and plays an important role in walking and running. Motor vehicle crashes and falls from elevation have been associated with calcaneal fractures. Although not life-threatening, these injuries may result in permanent disability. This study used the Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network (CIREN) database to describe calcaneal fractures and concomitant lower extremity skeletal injury patterns for occupants involved in motor vehicle crashes. Sixty-three drivers and 7 front row passengers with calcaneal fractures were identified in the CIREN database during 1997-2005. Almost all these occupants were involved in severe (based on the delta V and vehicle crush) frontal or off-set frontal crashes with toe pan intrusion. Eighty-four percent of the calcaneal fractures were intra-articular or partially articular. Overall, 93% of occupants also had injury to other body regions with 84% having other lower extremity fractures. One year after the crash, most occupants had not returned to their prior level of physical functioning. Surgically managing patients with calcaneal fractures for an optimal outcome remains a challenge for orthopedic surgeons. Because lower extremity injuries, including calcaneal fractures, may cause permanent disability, it is important to prevent these injuries through structural improvements in motor vehicle design.
    Accident Analysis & Prevention 08/2007; 39(4):794-9. · 1.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Traumatic cardiac and thoracic aortic injuries are hypothesized to result from rapid deceleration of occupants during a motor vehicle crash. The purpose of this study was to identify potential risk factors for motor vehicle-related cardiac and thoracic aortic (HTA) injury using the Crash Injury Research Engineering Network (CIREN) database. CIREN data were used to test the hypothesis that there is no difference between occupants with HTA injury and occupants with thoracic injury other than the heart or aorta (non-HTA). Occupant variables (restraint use, airbag deployment, Glasgow Coma Scale score, Injury Severity Score, concomitant injuries, driver versus passenger status, height, and comorbidity) and crash variables (principal direction of force, change in velocity, vehicle crush, intrusion, and vehicle type) were compared for these two groups. Odds ratios were used to quantify the potential risk factors for HTA injury compared with non-HTA injury. There were 168 occupants with an HTA injury and 731 with a non-HTA injury. Greater crash severity (based on vehicle crush and change in velocity), improper safety belt use, and lack of safety belt use were significantly associated with HTA injury. Unrestrained occupants had almost three times the chance of having an HTA injury (odds ratio = 2.86; p < 0.05). For restrained drivers, 41.4% of HTA injuries were caused by vehicle interior components. When not protected by both safety belts and air bags, 45.7% of driver HTA injuries were caused by the steering wheel. For passengers, the vehicle interior (armrests, side interior, and B-pillars) accounted for most HTA injuries regardless of safety system status. More than half of all occupants wearing safety belts who sustained an HTA injury were improperly wearing their safety belts. The high mortality associated with cardiac and aortic injuries supports the need to prevent these injuries from occurring during motor vehicle crashes. These results suggest proper use of safety belts is necessary to prevent cardiac and thoracic aortic injuries. However, other important potential risk factors, such as motor vehicle size and crash severity, might continue to present a challenge to motor vehicle safety professionals.
    The Journal of trauma 06/2007; 62(6):1462-7. · 2.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Injury patterns of occupants in motor vehicle crashes are changing, with upper extremity injury becoming more common in patients treated at trauma centres. Although not life threatening, upper extremity injuries may result in long-term disability, including chronic deformity, neurovascular compromise and degenerative arthritis. The purpose of this study was to compare upper extremity injury in drivers and passengers using the Crash Injury Research Engineering Network (CIREN) database. CIREN data were used to compare upper extremity skeletal injury patterns and sources for drivers and passengers in frontal and side impacts. Occupant variables (age, gender, co-morbidity, avoidance maneuvers and restraint use) and crash variables (direction of impact, delta V and vehicle crush) were considered in the analysis. Only 24.8% of all occupants in the CIREN database had upper extremity injuries. One-half of upper extremity injuries to drivers were forearm fractures compared to one-third for passengers. Occupants in side impacts were more likely (OR=5.05) to have clavicle fractures, even while controlling for driver versus passenger status and safety belt use. Air bags were more likely to be a source of forearm fracture (OR=2.31) when controlling for driver versus passenger status, direction of force, sex and age compared to other sources. Only 10% of driver fractures with air bag deployment in frontal impacts were associated with air bag fling. This study found that drivers and passengers have different upper extremity injury patterns but the direction of impact also plays an important role.
    Injury 04/2007; 38(3):350-7. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this research was to determine occupant, vehicle, and crash characteristics predicting serious injury during rollover crashes. We compared 27 case occupants with serious or greater severity injuries with 606 control occupants without injury or with only minor or moderate injury. Odds ratios (OR) for individual variables and logistic regression were used to identify predictive variables for serious injury associated with rollovers. Cases more often had thorax, spine, or head injury compared to controls that more often had extremity injuries. Intrusion (especially roof rail or B-pillar intrusion) at the occupant's position, the vehicle interior side and roof as sources of injury, and improper safety belt use were significantly associated with serious injury. Even when safety belt use or proper use was controlled for, occupants with greater magnitude of intrusion at their seat position were about 10 times more likely to receive serious injury. Although prevention of rollover crashes is the ultimate goal, it is important to develop safer vehicles and safety systems to better protect occupants who are involved in rollover crashes. This also requires improvement in data collection systems documenting these types of crashes.
    Accident Analysis & Prevention 10/2006; 38(5):835-42. · 1.87 Impact Factor
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