Fri | Mar 22, 2019

Surgeon urges bikers to wear lower-level protective gear

Published:Saturday | February 16, 2019 | 12:24 AM
Orthopaedic Surgeon at the St Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital, Dr Cary Fletcher.

Orthopaedic surgeon at the St Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital, Dr Cary Fletcher, is highlighting the need for motorbike riders and pillion passengers to wear lower-limb protective gear.

Some common protective equipment worn by competitive and recreational bikers are specially made pants with built-in kneecap protectors, boots to safeguard the legs, knee braces and guards, and armoured shorts and pants, among others.

The surgeon’s emphasis is in light of a study conducted at the hospital between March 2016 and June 2018, which showed that the majority of injuries from motorbike crashes occurred in the lower extremity, which includes the hips, knees and ankle joints, and the bones of the thighs, legs, and feet. Fletcher explained that the study looked at injury patterns and their prevalence among the target group.

“We analysed the specific orthopaedic injuries. We looked at the bones that were involved, then we categorised in terms of body area – lower-limb injuries, upper-limb injuries, pelvic and spine,” he explained. He said that of the injuries, 55 per cent occurred in the lower limbs and 30 per cent in the upper limbs, with pelvic and spinal injuries at five per cent each. Fletcher noted that the majority of people requiring surgery had at least one lower-limb injury.

“When you consider that 94 per cent of the people requiring surgery had a lower-limb injury, it is important that we not only look at improving helmet use, but also on emphasising the need for protective gear, especially for the lower limbs. These are the people requiring surgery, and they are also the people requiring hospitalisation over a prolonged period of time,” he pointed out.

Fletcher said that the study was the only one in the western hemisphere that looked solely at motorbike accidents. It included patients from the North East Regional Health Authority, which covers the parishes of St Ann, St Mary and Portland, and persons from Trelawny, Clarendon and St James, who were referred from other facilities. There were 155 patients: 153 males and two females ages 14 to 64.

The study, which was conducted by Fletcher and Dr Derrick McDowell of the hospital’s Orthopaedic Department, was recognised as the Most Impactful Oral Presentation at the ninth annual National Health Research Conference, which took place on November 22 and 23, 2018.