The Burden of High-Energy Musculoskeletal Trauma in High-Income Countries

P. Hoogervorst, D. W. Shearer, T. Miclau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Introduction to the problem: Though declining in the recent decades, high-energy musculoskeletal trauma remains a major contributor to the burden of disease in high-income countries (HICs). However, due to limitations in the available body of the literature, evaluation of this burden is challenging. The purpose of this review is to assess: (1) the current epidemiologic data on the surgical burden of high-energy musculoskeletal trauma in HICs; (2) the current data on the economic impact of high-energy musculoskeletal trauma; and (3) potential strategies for addressing gaps in musculoskeletal trauma care for the future. Review of literature: In 2016, mortality from road traffic injuries (RTIs) between the ages of 15–49 was reported to be 9.5% (9.0–9.9) in high-income countries, accounting for approximately 255 million DALYs. While RTIs do not fully capture the extent of high-energy musculoskeletal trauma, as the most common mechanism, they serve as a useful indicator of the impact on the surgical and economic burden. In 2009, the global losses related to RTIs were estimated to be 518 billion USD, costing governments between 1 and 3% of their gross domestic product (GDP). In the last decade, both the total direct per-person healthcare cost and the incremental direct per-person costs for those with a musculoskeletal injury in the USA rose 75 and 58%, respectively. Future directions: addressing the gaps: While its impact is large, research on musculoskeletal conditions, including high-energy trauma, is underfunded compared to other fields of medicine. An increased awareness among policy makers and healthcare professionals of the importance of care for the high-energy musculoskeletal trauma patient is critical. Full implementation of trauma systems is imperative, and metrics such as the ICD–DALY have the potential to allow for real-time evaluation of prevention and treatment programs aimed to reduce injury-related morbidity and mortality. The dearth in knowledge in optimal and cost-effective post-acute care for high-energy musculoskeletal trauma is a reason for concern, especially since almost half of the costs are attributed to this phase of care. Multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams as part of a musculoskeletal trauma system may be of interest to decrease further the long-term negative effects and the economic burden of high-energy musculoskeletal trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1038
Number of pages6
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Société Internationale de Chirurgie.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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