Mechanism of Injury

Authors: Lily Stanley, Alan Laverty / Editor: Tadgh Moriarty / Codes: Published: 01/08/2023

As emergency physicians we rely on prehospital care practitioners to relay information about the mechanism experienced by injured patients. Prehospital teams have a unique insight into how an injury occurred, and what forces were applied. It is important this information is accurately passed onto hospital teams to help guide ongoing patient care.

Understanding mechanism of injury is a crucial aspect of managing patients who have suffered traumatic injuries. This module aims to provide an overview on attaining this information and its translation into patient care.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the significance of mechanism of injury in contributing to an assessment of probable injury severity.
  • Know the relevant questions to gather information about mechanism of injury.
  • Know which injury patterns are typically associated with common mechanisms of injury.
  • Understand the common pitfalls when reading a scene or interpreting mechanism of injury and how to avoid these.


  1. Major Trauma in Older People – 2017 Report.
  2. Severe Injury In Children Report – 2019-20. TARN – The Trauma Audit & Research Network. England & Wales. [Accessed July 2023]
  3. Kehoe A, Smith JE, Edwards A, et al. The changing face of major trauma in the UK. Emergency Medicine Journal 2015;32:911-915.
  4. Nutbeam T, Boylan M. ABC of Prehospital Emergency Medicine. ISBN: 978-0-470-65488-0 September 2013 BMJ Books.
  5. Indiana Department of Health, Mechanism of Injury Manual. [Accessed September 2022)
  6. Jorolemon MR, Lopez RA, Krywko DM. Blast Injuries. [Updated 2022 Jul 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-.
  7. Rivara FP, Grossman DC, Cummings P. Injury prevention. First of two parts. N Engl J Med 1997; 337(8): 543-48.
  8. Versteegh S. The Accuracy Of Driver Accounts Of Vehicle Accidents. Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR), 2004.
  9. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Fatality facts 2020. passenger vehicle occupants. [Accessed September 2020]
  10. Claire E. Baker and others, The relationship between road traffic collision dynamics and traumatic brain injury pathology. Brain Communications, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2022, fcac033
  11. Department for Transport. Facts on Road Fatalities, 2015. [Accessed September 2022]
  12. Wenzel, Tom. Assessment of NHTSAs Report Relationships Between Fatality Risk, Mass, and Footprint in Model Year 2003-2010 Passenger Cars and LTVs. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.2172/1341729.
  13. Fouda Mbarga N, Abubakari AR, et al. Seatbelt use and risk of major injuries sustained by vehicle occupants during motor-vehicle crashes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. BMC Public Health. 2018 Dec 29;18(1):1413.
  14. MacLennan PA, McGwin G, Metzger J, et al. Risk of injury for occupants of motor vehicle collisions from unbelted occupants. Injury Prevention 2004;10:363-367.
  15. Safe kids Canada. Child safety good practice guide. Good investments in unintentional child injury prevention and safety promotion. [Accessed September 2022]
  16. Serio F, et al. Death in the Same Compartment as a Predictor for Injury Severity. iMedPub. Trauma and Acute care. Vol.5 No.1:79, 2020.
  17. Nutbeam T, Fenwick R, Smith J. et al. A comparison of the demographics, injury patterns and outcome data for patients injured in motor vehicle collisions who are trapped compared to those patients who are not trapped. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med 29, 17, 2021.
  18. Ref Legal case: JJC (A Minor) v Eisenhower [1983] 3 WLR 537. Defined wounds and Injury in England and Wales.
  19. General Medical Council (GMC). Making and using visual and audio recordings of patients. 2013. [Accessed October 2022]

Leave a Reply