The surgical history of head injury in motor vehicle collision

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  • 1 University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and
  • 2 Departments of Neurosurgery and
  • 3 Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) are a significant cause of head injuries today, but efforts to manage and prevent these injuries extend as far back as the beginning of modern neurosurgery itself. Head trauma in MVCs occurred as far back as 1899, and the surgical literature of the time mentions several cases of children being struck by passing automobiles. By the 1930s, Dr. Claire L. Straith, a Detroit plastic surgeon, recommended changes to automobile design after seeing facial injuries and depressed skull fractures that resulted from automobile accidents. During World War II, Sir Hugh Cairns, a British neurosurgeon, demonstrated the efficacy of motorcycle helmets in preventing serious head injury. In the 1950s, Dr. Frank H. Mayfield, a Cincinnati neurosurgeon on the trauma committee of the American College of Surgeons, made several recommendations, such as adding padded dashboards and seatbelts, to make automobiles safer. Ford implemented the recommendations from Dr. Mayfield and others into a safety package for the 1956 models. Significant work has also been done to prevent head injury in motorsports. Efforts by surgeons, especially neurosurgeons, to prevent head injury in MVCs have saved countless lives, although it is a less frequently celebrated achievement.

ABBREVIATIONS HANS = Head and Neck Support; MVC = motor vehicle collision; TBI = traumatic brain injury.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Charles J. Prestigiacomo: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH. presticj@ucmail.uc.edu.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online November 27, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2020.7.JNS20941.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

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