Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr.Michael James Shkrum


The leading cause of death for children in the age group of 1-14 years is accidental injury. Motor vehicle accidents make up 63% of all accidental injury deaths in this age category. Furthermore, traumatic brain injury causes the highest number of deaths among children involved in motor vehicle collisions. Although cervical spine injuries are less frequent, they do cause death in children. Using a retrospective database, the objective of this pilot study was to determine whether there was a relationship between head injuries and cervical spine injuries and if cervical spine injuries had a higher frequency in younger pediatric passengers. Data were gathered on the types of injuries in passengers and pedestrians from postmortem and police reports for children 12 years and under involved in motor vehicle collisions. The influence of age and gender on the frequency of sustaining a head and spine injury was analyzed. The results showed that the younger individuals of both sexes had higher odds of sustaining head injuries and lower odds of sustaining neck injuries. This study also showed that head and neck injuries were relatively independently related for all sample groups tested suggesting different factors were involved in their causation. By understanding the relationship between head and spine injuries in different age and gender groups, the variables responsible for these injuries must be further defined prospectively when designing motor vehicle research protocols and safety regulations and investigating child deaths in motor vehicle collisions. Serious head and neck injuries and deaths in children can be reduced by preventative safety measures which address the etiologic factors responsible for these injuries in motor vehicle collisions.