Biomechanics Expert Discusses Spinal Fracture Suffered During Ambulance Ride

Biomechanics Expert WitnessThis case involves a female patient who was picked up by emergency medical workers after having suffered an apparent seizure while attending her son’s baseball game. Due to severe confusion as well as belligerent behavior, the woman had been restrained prior to being placed in the back of the ambulance for transport to a local hospital. Despite these precautions, the patient apparently came free in the ambulance and fell when the driver took a sudden turn. She suffered an injury to her spinal cord during the fall that resulted in full paralysis from her waist down. Despite undergoing extensive rehabilitation and surgical treatment, she was unable to regain functional use of her lower legs. An expert in biomechanics and kinesiology was requested to evaluate the forces required to have caused such an injury.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Assuming the records are of sufficient quality and detail, could you extrapolate from the plaintiff's injury to address how the ambulance likely came to a stop?

Expert Witness Response E-007972

I have a doctorate in biomedical engineering and kinesiology with a specialization in cervical spine impact trauma. I have authored multiple peer-reviewed publications on the topic of spine injury mechanisms and tolerance. In this case, the c-spine injury specifics would allow an assessment of the range of loads – both magnitude and direction – that result in the specific injury pattern. Correlating that with the description of the incident along with the geometry of the ambulance interior and stretcher may result in additional insight into the injury mechanism and patient’s accident kinematics. I have worked on another case as an expert where a truck rear-ended an ambulance at a railway crossing. The EMT assisting the patient in the back of the ambulance suffered a catastrophic cervical spine injury in the accident.


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