Two of the enticements of riding a motorcycle are the sense of freedom you get as you’re surrounded by open air, and the adrenaline-packed thrill you feel as the bike revs below you. Unfortunately, there’s a practical trade-off for those emotional highs: motorcycles must sacrifice safety measures, including seat belts, windshield barriers, and a protective shell. As a result, when motorcyclists are involved in collisions, the likelihood of severe injuries is five times greater than if they were driving a car.
And many of these motorcycle injuries are fatal or permanently incapacitating.
The most common type of injury, road rash, has varying degrees of severity depending on the type of injury you endure. Some bikers even consider road rash a badge of honor. However, without proper treatment, even road rash can be fatal.
Types of Road Rash Injuries
Road rash is essentially an abrasive injury to the skin and tissue caused by friction with the ground. When thinking about road rash, many people envision minor scrapes and abrasions akin to skinning your knee when you fell off your bike as a child. Unfortunately, due to excessive speeds, force, and pressure, motorcycle accident road rash can be much more traumatic than a scraped knee.
For instance, the three types of road rash injuries that can cause severe damage are as follows:
- Avulsion injuries. Avulsion injuries occur when a rider skids across the ground, causing his skin to be stripped away. The friction caused by the force of the accident violently scrapes the rider over the abrasive ground, causing sensitive skin and tissue to detach. Avulsion injuries are easily identified as underlying layers of skin and muscle are exposed.
- Compression injuries. Compression injuries occur when a part of the rider’s body is compressed between two objects. In most cases, these injuries result from being pinned under the bike, but can also be a result of being thrown from the seat and becoming trapped between other vehicles, trees, etc. The pressure, weight, and movement of the objects in which the rider is trapped, can cause abrasions, massive bruising and hemorrhaging, muscle damage, and broken bones.
- Open wound injuries. When an avulsion or compression injury is severe enough, it can expose tissue, muscle, nerves, and bone. In these cases, stitches will most likely be required to close the open wound. Because it’s so easy for dirt, gravel, and other foreign materials to be embedded in the wound, these injuries carry a substantial risk of infection.
The severity of road rash is determined by a similar degree system as burns, ranging from minor first degree abrasions to severe third degree injuries. The nature and cause of the injury determine its type. Once the type is determined, diagnosis for possible consequences and treatment can be evaluated.
Badge of Tragedy?
Now that you know the risks of road rash, do you think road rashes should be considered badges of honor for motorcyclists? In addition to the lifelong scars that bikers will be forced to carry, the complications of road rash can be fatal; is this something to be proud of or feared?
Tell us what you think and share your experiences with road rash by filling out the comment section on this page. We’re eager to hear your thoughts, concerns, and stories. You can also share this page on Facebook to educate your friends and family and invite them into the discussion.