Vertical trauma: Injuries to patients who fall and land on their feet

Steven R. Lowenstein*, Michael Yaron, Rosanne Carrero, Dennis Devereux, Lenworth M. Jacobs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We reviewed the patterns of injuries sustained by 12 consecutive fallers and jumpers in whom primary impact was onto the feet. The fall heights ranged from 20 to 100 ft. The 12 patients sustained 49 significant injuries. Skeletal injuries were most frequent and included 15 lower extremity fractures, four pelvic fractures, and nine spinal fractures. In two patients, paraplegia resulted. Genitourinary tract injuries included bladder hematoma, renal artery transection, and renal contusion. Thoracic injuries included rib fractures, pneumothorax, and hemothorax. Secondary impact resulted in several cranio facial and upper extremity injuries. Chronic neurologic disability and prolonged morbidity were common. One patient died; the patient who fell 100 ft survived. After initial stabilization, survival is possible after falls or jumps from heights as great as 100 feet It is important to recognize the skeletal and internal organs at risk from high-magnitude vertical forces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-165
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • fall
  • trauma


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