Cargo areas of pickup trucks: An avoidable mechanism for neurological injuries in children

John W. German, Arnett Klugh, Stephen L. Skirboll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Object. Falls from pickup truck cargo areas represent a unique mode of injury in children and adolescents. The goal of this study was to identify the neurological spectrum of injuries resulting from children riding in the back of pickup trucks. Methods. The authors undertook a retrospective review of the University of New Mexico Hospital trauma registry of data compiled over a 7-year period. Their goal was to identify instances in which a fall or ejection from a pickup truck cargo area was the mechanism of injury. The charts of pediatric patients (≤ 16 years of age) with neurological injuries were reviewed and analyzed. Seventy-three pediatric patients with injuries related to riding in the cargo areas of trucks were identified, of which 53 children (73%) had sustained neurological injuries. Among these 53 children, 64% sustained isolated head injuries, 15% isolated spine injuries, 9.4% combined spine and head injuries, 2% combined peripheral nerve, spine, and head injuries, 4% isolated peripheral nerve injuries, and 5.6% concussive events. In 53.4% of patients with neurological injuries the results of computed tomography (CT) examination were abnormal. In 36% of patients with Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) scores of 14 to 15 there was evidence of intracranial hemorrhage on head CT scans. Injury Severity Scores were similar in the patients who were ejected and those who fell from cargo areas, but patients who were ejected had a lower mean GCS score than those who suffered falls (GCS score 12.5 and 14.3, respectively). Conclusions. Falls or ejections from pickup truck cargo areas result in a relatively high incidence of traumatic head, spine, and peripheral nerve injury. Head CT scanning should therefore be considered in pediatric patients with this mechanism of injury. Cargo area occupancy poses an unacceptable risk of injury and should be avoided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-371
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5 SUPPL.
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Head injury
  • Motor vehicle ejection
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Pickup truck

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cargo areas of pickup trucks: An avoidable mechanism for neurological injuries in children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this