One common question we are asked about the Tummy Shield is, “is there more potential for leg injuries if I use this?”
First, what is safety? Safety is really about risk assessment and risk mitigation to put the odds in our favor.
The primary purpose of a seat belt is to restrain the occupant and keep him in the vehicle. The possibility for injuries increases dramatically when a person is thrown from the car.
The seat belt is designed to engage the strongest parts of the body – the hips, shoulders and chest.
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There are many injury patterns from the seat belt configuration. For instance in a severe crash the seat belt can fracture the pelvis itself as it is bowl-like structure which is relatively fragile compared to the femurs, which are the long, think bones in the thighs (and the strongest bones in the body).
Another common occurrence, called submarining, in a crash is when the mass of the legs pulls on the pelvis and causes the body to rock down and under the lap portion of the seat belt. When that happens the seat belt can actually come off of the hips and intrude into the abdomen causing injury. That is bad enough for the average occupant, but for the pregnant woman, even early in the pregnancy, that could mean a severe or fatal injury to the unborn baby.
The Tummy Shield is intended primarily for the pregnant woman and can be used by anyone who has undergone a stomach surgery or other permanent medical situation where the lap portion of the seat belt could cause discomfort while driving or complications in a crash.
The Tummy Shield is a crash-tested device designed to redirect the lap portion of the seat belt. It contains a heavy steel plate and anchor inside a soft cushion. It needs to be secured to the vehicle seat using its buckle strap.
Since it is redirecting the crash forces away from the pregnancy to the legs, there is a potential for leg injury. Crashes inherently involve extremely high amounts of energy. There is no way to eliminate all risks. So, yes, there is a potential for leg injury.
While there are risks of injury to the leg, the benefits of protecting the pregnancy and the unborn baby far outweigh those risks. And the femurs in the legs, as mentioned earlier, are the strongest bones in the body. If the crash is severe enough that the femurs are fractured, one can only imagine the amount of damage that would have been done to the more fragile pelvic area and pregnancy.
We want to know, when weighing the risks to either your legs or your pregnancy, which would you choose? Share your comments below.
By Greg Durocher, CEO at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Technician Instructor since 2002
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