According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 5,500 motorcyclists died on American roads in 2020, while over 180,000 received treatment for crash injuries in hospitals. Many motorcycle injuries are life-threatening, including a flail chest injury.
A flail chest occurs when ribs break in multiple places, leaving a rib segment disconnected or unanchored.
A trauma impact
Most flail chest injuries stem from blunt force trauma to the chest. This may happen if another vehicle collides with the motorcycle. The force of the impact breaks ribs that absorb the brunt of the crash.
Alternatively, a crash can throw the motorcyclist from the bike and cause the person to land hard on a pavement or other solid ground. In another scenario, the motorcycle rider remains on the bike as it tumbles and rolls. This tosses the rider around, and the repeated trauma breaks multiple ribs.
Flail chest impairs breathing
When an injured cyclist inhales, the breath sucks the broken ribs inward instead of expanding outward. When exhaling, the damaged ribs bulge outward instead of deflating. This makes it very difficult to get full breaths and also causes severe pain with each breath.
Other complications include internal bleeding, bruising to the lungs, and post-traumatic pneumonia can arise. All of these threats make flail chest an emergency requiring prompt medical care. Treatment includes stabilizing the chest, ensuring adequate oxygenation, addressing pain, and preventing infections.
Fortunately, doctors have a good chance to help flail chest patients survive and even recover fully, but it depends on a timely diagnosis and treatment to stabilize the situation. The motorcycle rider can consider possible options to pursue compensation if a negligent party caused the chest injury.