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J Trauma. 2001 Mar;50(3):389-95; discussion 396.

Traditional injury scoring underestimates the relative consequences of orthopedic injury.

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Trauma Services, Legacy Emanuel Hospital, Portland, Oregon, USA.



To demonstrate that patients with multiple injuries who have orthopedic injuries (ORTHO) face greater challenges regarding functional outcome than those without, to identify domains of postinjury dysfunction, and to illustrate the increasing discordance of functional recovery over time for ORTHO patients in relation to nonORTHO patients.


A convenience sample of adult blunt force trauma patients admitted to a Level I trauma center was evaluated at admission, and at 6 and 12 months after injury. Data were collected from the trauma registry (Trauma One), chart review, and interviews. Mailed surveys were completed 6 and 12 months after injury. The Short Form 36 (SF36) general health survey and the Sickness Impact Profile work scale (SIPw) were administered at both time points. Data are presented as mean +/- SEM or percent (%). To compare means, t tests were conducted, and Injury Severity Score (ISS) was controlled by linear regression before the evaluation of the role of ORTHO injury pattern on outcome measures. Significance is noted at the 95% confidence level (p < 0.05).


The 165 patients studied averaged 37.2 +/- 1.1 years in age and were 67% men. The mean ISS was 14.4 +/- 0.6 and 61% had ORTHO injury. ORTHO patients were no different from nonORTHO in any measure of baseline status including the SIPw score and all domains of the SF36, except that the ISS was greater in the ORTHO group (15.6 +/- 0.96 vs. 12.7 +/- 0.73, p = 0.017). Baseline SF36 values were similar to national norms. Follow-up was 75% at 6 months, and 51% at 12 months. Those lost to follow-up differed only in that they were more likely to be men. Sixty-four percent had returned to work 12 months after injury. After controlling for ISS with linear regression, the ORTHO patients had worse scores on all physical measures of the SF36 (bodily pain, physical function, and role-physical). By 12 months after injury, the relative dysfunction of the ORTHO patients had expanded to include the SIPw score (p = 0.016) and six of eight SF36 domains (bodily pain, physical function, role-physical, mental health, role-emotional, and social function, all p < 0.05).


Injury severity affects both mortality and the potentially more consequential issues of long-term morbidity. Patients with ORTHO injury have relatively worse functional recovery, and this worsens with time. As trauma centers approach the limits of achievable survival, new advances in trauma care can be directed more toward the quality of recovery for our patients. This will be contingent on further development of screening, scoring, and treatment systems designed to address issues of functional outcome across injury boundaries for those who survive.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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