On equal footing: Trends in ankle/foot injuries for men vs. women

Objectives: The objective of the current study was to examine trends in ankle/foot (A/F) injuries during the period 2001–2014, in order to determine whether the incidence of these injuries has changed and whether a previously identified difference in risk by gender still existed. In addition, other driver and crash-related risk factors were examined separately for men and women.

Methods: Passenger vehicle drivers aged 16+ were identified from NASS-CDS; weighted data were analyzed for model years 2001–2014. Model years (MY) were grouped as 2001–2004 (older) vs. 2005–2014 (newer), and drivers in frontal crashes were included. Ankle injuries included fractures and dislocations to the malleolus and distal tibia/fibula. Foot injuries included fractures and dislocations of the talus, calcaneus, and tarsal/metatarsal bones. Logistic regression models were constructed to identify risk factors, including MY, age, belt use, toepan/instrument panel intrusion, and body mass index (BMI) separately for each gender using odds ratios.

Results: The incidence of A/F injuries declined significantly between older and newer MY, especially for women. Whereas before MY 2005, ankle and foot injury risk was significantly higher for women than men, risks for ankle injury are now virtually the same for both genders, and women are only 1.2 times more likely than men to sustain a foot injury in a frontal crash. From multivariable regression models, however, it is apparent that there are different risk factors for A/F injuries for men vs. women. Body weight was a significant factor for both groups, but for men it was a risk only for those extremely obese, whereas for women those who were categorized as overweight were also at increased risk. Age greater than 55 was also found to be a risk factor for foot injuries among women but not men. For men and women, toepan intrusion remained the most important factor for both foot and ankle injuries, with significantly higher odds ratios noted for men. Foot pedals were a more likely injury source for women, whereas the toepan was more likely for men. In addition, belt use was protective for ankle injuries in women but not men.

Conclusions: Significant declines in A/F injuries have been noted in recent years, especially for women, whose risks are now similar to those for men. However, significant risk factors remain for each gender, primarily related to body habitus (BMI) and toepan intrusion. Age was a risk factor for foot injuries among women, for whom the foot pedals were more likely to be an injury source. Toepan intrusion remains a major factor for both men and women, but, with the exception of 30+ cm of intrusion, odds ratios were primarily much higher for men in each category of intrusion.