The sternum is the long, flat bone shaped like a dagger that sits along the middle of the chest. It connects the ribs with cartilage to create the front of the rib cage. The function of the rib cage is protecting vital organs such as major blood vessels, lungs and the heart. Road users in Arkansas might not realize that fractures of the sternum most often occur in traffic collisions.
Around 5 to 8 percent of chest trauma cases result in sternum fractures, and 60 to 90 percent of these fractures are the result of car accidents. The injury happens to females more than males and is more likely to occur in adults 50 and older. In crashes, the reasons for fractures are usually that the victims were not wearing safety belts or did not have airbags in their vehicles. Without these protective devices, the chest of the victim can hit the dashboard or steering wheel.
Although sternum fractures happen most often in car accidents, they can also occur with the sudden flexing of the chest. This could happen in sports such as football, martial arts, wrestling, weightlifting, boxing and hockey. Sternum fractures are also more common among those who work in warehouses and at high-rise construction sites. The risk increases when people in these categories suffer from osteoporosis or other disorders that weaken the bone structures.
The biggest concern with sternum fractures is the possibility of vital organ and vertebral injuries. The victims in about 25 to 45 percent of cases do not survive.
When someone suffers a sternum fracture in a wreck resulting from the negligence of another person, the injured victim might be awarded compensation in a lawsuit. A lawyer may help prove the other driver's negligence and navigate the claims process.