Approximately 60% of all multisystem trauma victims have some type of chest or thoracic trauma (Owens, Chaudry, Eggerstedt & Smith, 2000). Chest trauma is classified as either blunt or penetrating. Blunt chest trauma results from sudden compression or positive pressure inflicted to the chest wall. Motor vehicle crashes (trauma due to steering wheel, seat belt), falls, and bicycle crashes (trauma due to handlebars) are the most common causes of blunt chest trauma. Penetrating trauma occurs when a foreign object penetrates the chest wall. The most common causes of penetrating chest trauma include gunshot wounds and stabbings.
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