Effects of muscle quantity and bone mineral density on injury and outcomes in older adult motor vehicle crash occupants

William Armstrong, Casey Costa, Luis Poveda, Anna N. Miller, Alexander Ambrosini, Fang Chi Hsu, Bahram Kiani, R. Shayn Martin, Joel D. Stitzel, Ashley A. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Quantify the independent and combined effects of abdominal muscle quantity and lumbar bone mineral density (BMD) on injury risk and in-hospital outcomes in severely injured motor vehicle crash (MVC) occupants ages 50 and older. Methods: Skeletal muscle area measurements of MVC occupants were obtained through semi-automated segmentation of an axial computed tomography (CT) slice at the L3 vertebra. An occupant height-normalized Skeletal Muscle Index (SMI) was calculated - a defining metric of sarcopenia and low muscle mass (sarcopenia thresholds: <38.5 cm2/m2 females; <52.4 cm2/m2 males). Lumbar BMD was obtained using a validated, phantomless CT calibration method (osteopenia threshold: <145 mg/cm3). SMI and BMD values were used to categorize occupants, and logistic regression was used to associate sarcopenia, osteopenia, and osteosarcopenia predictors to injury outcomes (e.g., Injury Severity Score (ISS), maximum Abbreviated Injury Scale (MAIS) score, fractures) and hospital outcomes (e.g., length of stay, ICU days). Results: Of the 336 occupants, 210 (63%) were female (mean ± SD: age 66.3 ± 10.6). SMI was 41.7 ± 8.0 cm2/m2 in females and 51.2 ± 10.8 cm2/m2 in males. Based on SMI, 40% of females and 55% of males were classified as sarcopenic. BMD was 163.2 ± 38.3 mg/cm3 in females and 164.1 ± 35.4 mg/cm3 in males, with 41% of females and 33% of males classified as osteopenic. Prevalence of both conditions (osteosarcopenia) was similar between females (21%) and males (22%). Incidence of low SMI and BMD increased with age. Sarcopenic individuals were less likely to sustain a MAIS 2+ thorax injury and had longer ICU stays. Osteopenic individuals were more likely to sustain upper extremity injuries and fractures, and were less likely to be discharged to a rehabilitation facility. Osteosarcopenic individuals were less likely to be ventilated or admitted to the ICU but tended to spend more time on the ventilator if placed on one. Conclusions: Osteosarcopenia was not associated with any injury outcomes, but sarcopenia was associated with thoracic injury and osteopenia was associated with upper extremity injury incidence. Sarcopenia was only associated with ICU length of stay, while osteopenia was only associated with discharge destination. Osteosarcopenia was associated with likelihood of being ventilated, being admitted to the ICU, and with increased length of ventilation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S86-S91
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network (CIREN)
  • Medical imaging
  • hospital outcomes
  • injury risk
  • osteopenia
  • skeletal muscle mass


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