Vertical deceleration injuries: a comparative study of the injury patterns of 101 patients after accidental and intentional high falls

Injury. 1996 Nov;27(9):655-9. doi: 10.1016/s0020-1383(96)00083-6.


We analysed the pattern of injury of 101 adult patients who were treated in our Trauma Center after a fall from an average height of 7.2 m between 1987 and 1990. In 62 patients the fall was accidental, and 39 jumped with suicidal intent. The most common injuries were fractures of the thoracic and lumbar spine (83.0 per cent) especially of the thoracolumbar junction. The pattern of limb injuries is towards a significant preference of the metaphyseal and epiphyseal parts of the bones of the distal joints (wrist, elbow, ankle, subtalar). Fractures of the diaphyseal areas and the proximal joints (shoulder, humerus, hip, femur) were rare. The incidence of thoracic (20.8 per cent) and pelvic injuries (30.0 per cent) was relatively lower. Blunt abdominal injury (5.9 per cent) was rare after a fall from a great height. Head injuries occurred in only 27 per cent of our patients who all survived their transport to hospital. There is no significant difference in injury patterns between deliberate and accidental falls, but there is a higher number of isolated injuries in all patients after unsuccessful suicidal jumps.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Deceleration / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology
  • Suicide, Attempted*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*