Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

April 24, 2007 15:00 ET

Motor Vehicle Crashes Take Toll on Orthopaedic Health

“All of these injuries are preventable,” says Foundation head

Attention: City Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Lifestyle Editor, Transportation Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, NEWS RELEASE--(CCNMatthews - April 24, 2007) - Improvements in bone and joint care, and promising research, make a significant difference in orthopaedics in Canada. But one of the biggest impacts on orthopaedic health is within the grasp of motorists - increased safety on our roads.

"Motor vehicle crashes remain a huge concern, in the injuries that require orthopaedic treatment, and the burden on the health care system," says Angelique Berg, executive director, Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation. "One of our priorities is education, and our message is that there are no traffic 'accidents' - all of these injuries are preventable."

Berg is speaking out in support of the first United Nations Global Road Safety Week, April 23-29, 2007. The aim of the week is to raise awareness about the societal impact and costs of motor vehicle collisions, with a focus on young road users.

According to Transport Canada, approximately 210,000 Canadians are injured in traffic incidents every year. For people under 25, the numbers are particularly alarming. This age group accounts for 24% of all drivers killed or injured, 44% of passengers killed, and 47% of passengers injured.

Almost half of severe injuries in Canada, reports the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), result from motor vehicle crashes. The CIHI report says major trauma patients most commonly suffer head injuries, followed closely by orthopaedic injuries.

Even non-life threatening injuries from crashes can still be life altering, says Dr. Rick Buckley, an orthopaedic surgeon and head of trauma at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.

"People will forget about the fact they broke a rib, had a collapsed lung, or even lost a spleen," says Dr. Buckley. "But disabilities from knee, hip or foot injuries can be enormous. Some people will never be quite the same."

John Leroux, 35, is one. In February 2006, the Fredericton, N.B. architect was driving to a meeting, when another car ploughed into him; that driver had dropped a cigarette and was momentarily distracted. Leroux's car was crushed, and his skull, arm, wrist, and legs were fractured. He had bone grafts in both legs, spent three months in hospital, and months more in physiotherapy, going from a wheelchair to crutches to a cane.

Leroux says he continues to recover. But he is always aware of his limitations - not being able to play a favourite sport, run with his child, or kneel down to pick something up.

"People take their orthopaedic health for granted," says Leroux. "But when you have a lack of mobility, it's amazing what's taken away from you, and how debilitating it can be. I know I'm lucky to even be alive. But I live with the results of the crash every day. When people are on the road, they have to remember that every decision they make can have an enormous impact."

Whether you're the cause of a crash or the victim of someone else's bad driving, Berg says, these crashes always come down to poor decision making - things like speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, unsafe passing, following too closely, or running stop signs or traffic lights.

"As the U.N. says, road traffic injuries are a global epidemic," says Berg. "We're making progress in orthopaedic health through our hospitals, doctor's offices, and research labs. But if we want to reduce orthopaedic injuries, then a big part of the solution is also on the roads and in our hands - the hands that drive our vehicles."

About the Foundation

The Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation is a registered charity dedicated to achieving excellence in bone and joint health, mobility and function for all Canadians. Founded in 1965, the Foundation raises funds through public donations, and allocates them to initiatives that advance orthopaedic research, promote public and professional education, and improve the delivery of community care. Through those improvements, we strive to keep Canadians living and moving independently.

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/For further information: Debbie Gates
Phone: 416-410-2341 or 1-800-461-3639 ext. 3
Email: debbie@canorth.org
Cell phone: 416-577-3251
Fax: 416-352-5078
Website: www.canorth.org or www.hiphiphooray.org

/ IN: HEALTH

Contact Information

  • Debbie Gates, Communications & Education Manager, Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
    Primary Phone: 416-410-2341 ext. 3
    Secondary Phone: 905-799-2719
    Toll-Free: 800-461-3639
    E-mail: debbie@canorth.org