NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Seatbelts and
airbags are not only good at protecting a person’s head and chest during
a car crash. They also help protect the kidneys, according to a new
Researchers found that survivors of car accidents
who wore a seatbelt and had a vehicle with airbags were less likely
to have a serious kidney injury or to need one of their kidneys
removed than people who didn’t take those precautions.
“This provides additional evidence to support the role of these
protective devices in motor vehicles,” Dr. Marc Bjurlin, the
report’s lead author, said.
Bjurlin is a urologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
The research was presented Friday at the 109th Annual Scientific
Meeting of the American Urological Association in Orlando, Florida.
Seatbelts are designed to spread the force of a vehicle crash across
the pelvis and chest while an airbag is meant to soften the impact
between the body and car.
For the new study, the researchers analyzed information on motor
vehicle accident injuries in 2010 and 2011 from the National Trauma
Data Bank. Of 287,174 accidents, there were 2,580 kidney injuries.
The researchers found that when airbags and seatbelts were used
together, the risk of serious kidney injuries fell by about 23
percent. The risk of surgery to remove a kidney fell by more than
Bjurlin said there are likely multiple reasons why using seatbelts
and airbags protects the kidneys.
For example, seatbelts keep people from bouncing throughout the
vehicle while also spreading out the impact of the crash.
“Ironically, in some studies the seatbelt has been found to be a
cause of kidney injuries,” Bjurlin told Reuters Health. While that
may be true in some cases, he said overall wearing seatbelts and
using airbags is beneficial.
“It protects your kidneys and reduced the risk of them being taken
out,” he said.
The results will also be published online in the Journal of Urology.