Road rash sounds like a fairly trivial injury, doesn’t it? The name – and the things sometimes associated with it – sound almost humorous. The computer game series entitled Road Rash is all about taking part in illegal street races, and knocking your opponents off their bikes. Not an uncommon feature of entertainment videogames.
It’s not just videogames. The tenth episode of season nine of popular medical drama Grey’s Anatomy sees a cavalcade of motorcycle club members descend on the emergency room. In true adherence to stereotype, the bikers are initially portrayed as volatile, violent, and quick to anger. They all have club names like ‘Gasoline’ and ‘Rage’.
They have come to the hospital after a collision with a mini-van lead to half the group wiping out. This is a common problem when bikers ride in groups – one bike crashes or skids, and takes out the ones around it. It is worth taking extra care when riding in a large group, to leave plenty of space between you, and to ride in a formation that minimises risk.
As the episode plays out, we find out that the club’s accountant – who is keen to prove himself and earn his patch as full club member – has suffered a ‘degloving’ injury. He is eventually fully initiated into the club, and given the club name ‘Road Rash’.
But what do ‘road rash’ and ‘degloving’ really mean?
The medical terms are abrasion and avulsion, respectively.
Even ‘abrasion’ doesn’t sound that bad. After all, it is essentially, a scrape. However, motorcyclists who have come off their bikes, and were not wearing sufficiently protective gear, have suffered horrific injuries. Road rash abrasions can be bone deep, cause life-long scarring, nerve damage, and require skin grafts, lengthy hospital stays, and months of recovery time.
An avulsion injury is possibly even worse. Look away now if you’re squeamish.
Avulsion means the detachment of a body structure – usually skin. Thus, a ‘degloving’ injury is the removal of skin from the hand, leaving the musculature, bones, and tissues exposed. Avulsion injuries caused by motorcycle accidents tend to be to the foot, usually as a result of improper footwear, but riders can also suffer avulsion injuries to the face and nose, as well as the arms and legs.
It cannot be emphasised enough that to avoid injuries like these, ALL bikers must take the proper precautions.
- Wear a properly fitted, good-quality helmet.
- Wear thick, protective clothing. Leathers are the most popular choice for jacket and trousers, and can come with body armour-style extra padding for the elbows, shoulders, hips and knees.
- Again, these must be well-fitting. There’s no point wearing them if they are going to fly off at the first gust of wind. You must also be able to retain good movement whilst wearing them so that they do not impede your steering.
- Yes, riding in the summer can be hot and uncomfortable, but please don’t ever ride wearing sneakers, or worse, flip-flops.
If you have suffered an abrasion or avulsion injury from a motorcycle accident, contact the specialist injury lawyers at Carry on Biking for help.