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Plane Crash Results in Spinal Fractures

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San Francisco, CAThe recent Asiana Airlines plane crash may have had many survivors, but those who survived will likely suffer long-term back and neck injuries, according to a doctor who treated many of the victims. Though the survivors would likely agree that they are lucky to be alive, many face a long road to recovery after suffering spinal injuries.

According to NBC News (7/7/13), many of the people who survived the plane crash, in which two people died and 10 were in critical condition, suffered fractured spines, head injuries, internal bleeding, traumatic brain injuries and damage to their ligaments. Many of the injuries were reportedly consistent with people whose upper bodies were flung over lap belts, a doctor who oversaw the care of many survivors of the crash said.

Asiana Airlines flight 214 was carrying 291 passengers and 16 crew from Shanghai to San Francisco. The plane crashed as pilots attempted to land at San Francisco. According to reports, the plane was flying too low and too slowly before the landing gear and tail hit a sea wall and landed short of the runway. A fire then erupted on the plane. More than 180 people were initially hospitalized, with 49 serious injuries. The majority of injuries were reportedly to adults, with some requiring surgery to stabilize their spines.

It is not yet known what caused the crash, which occurred on July 6. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating. The Los Angeles Times (7/9/13) reports that pilots blamed the automatic throttle for not keeping the jetliner at proper landing speed, but some outside experts say that shows the pilots relied too much on technology instead of manually monitoring how fast the airplane was moving. Those experts say had the pilots paid closer attention to the speed, they could have manually taken over the plane.

Any sort of impact that results in an upper body being flung about can result in head, neck and back injuries. Common in such situations are traumatic brain injuries, whiplash and spinal compression, all of which can have a lasting impact on the victim. Although two people were reported to have been paralyzed in the accident, doctors noted that it was too soon to tell if the paralysis was permanent.

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