Who crashes their car following wrist fracture?

Publication Name

Journal of Hand Therapy


Background: Wrist fractures are common injuries associated with high disability in the early recovery period. The impact of wrist fractures on safe return to drive is not understood. Purpose: (1) To compare the proportion of adults who were drivers in car crashes before and after wrist fracture; (2) To examine potential factors (demographic and/or clinical) associated with increased odds of being a driver in a car crash following wrist fracture. Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Methods: Three state-wide government datasets (MainRoads Western Australia [WA], Hospital Morbidity Data Collection and the Emergency Department Data Collection) were used to obtain and link demographic, clinical and car crash information relating to adults with a wrist fracture sustained between 2008 and 2017. McNemar's tests were used to compare the proportion of drivers in a car crash within the 2 years prior to and following the fracture date. Multivariable logistic regressions were used to identify if any variables were associated with increased odds of crashing in the post-fracture period. Results: Data relating to 37,107 adults revealed a 3.3% (95% CI 3.0%–3.6%, p < 0.05) decrease in the proportion of drivers in a car crash following wrist fracture, persisting for the entire 2 years post-fracture, when compared to the proportion who crashed before their fracture. Those with more severe wrist fracture injury patterns had 79%(95% CI 1.07–3.0, p = 0.03) higher odds of having a crash in the first 3 months following their injury, compared to those with isolated wrist fracture injuries. Conclusions: These results inform and update return to drive recommendations. The reduced proportion of drivers involved in crashes following wrist fracture persisted for 2 years; longer than the expected physical recovery timeframe. It is important that hand therapists actively educate the sub-group of adults with more severe wrist fracture injury patterns of the increased likelihood of car crash for the 3 months following their fracture.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Physiotherapy Research Foundation



Link to publisher version (DOI)