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Purpose: To investigate the impact on health related quality of life (HRQL) during the first year after minor extremity injury and to determine whether there is a difference in recovery patterns and return to work between upper extremity injuries (UEI) and lower extremity injuries (LEI).

Method: A total of 181 adults’ age 18 years or older randomly selected from patients admitted to an emergency department with minor injuries were studied. HRQL was measured using the Functional Status Questionnaire (FSQ) at 1–2 weeks, 3, 6, and 12-months post-injury. Pre-injury FSQ scores were measured retrospectively at admission. A quasi-least square (QLS) model was constructed to examine differences of FSQ scores at each measuring point for UEI and LEI.

Results: Fractures of the knee/lower leg (25%) were the most frequently injured body area. Slips or falls (57%) and traffic-related events (22%) were the most common injury causes. The mean ISS was 4.2 (SD 0.86). Both groups had significant declines in the FSQ scores physical and social functioning at 1–2 weeks after injury. Patients with UEI made larger improvements in the first 3 months post-injury versus patients with LEI whose improvements extended over the first 6 months. None of the groups reached the pre-injury FSQ scores during the first post-injury year except in the subscale work performance where UEI exceeded the pre-injury scores. At 12 months post-injury, significant lower FSQ scores remained in the LEI group compared to the UEI group in intermediate activities of daily living (p = 0.036, d 0.4) and work performance (p = 0.004, d 0.7). The return to work at 3 months and 12 months were 76% and 88% for UEI and 58% and 77% for LEI. No significant differences were found between groups in the FSQ scale mental health and social interaction.

Conclusions: LEI had the highest impact on HRQL and return to work during the first year which exceeded the consequences of UEI. These findings contribute to the information about the consequences of injury in order to give sufficient prognostic information to patients and different stakeholders. Future investigations should aim to investigate specific minor extremity injuries and identify factors that facilitate recovery and return to work.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license


Injury, Minor injury, Functional status, Trauma, Upper extremity, Lower extremity, Extremity, Recovery, Work, Health-related quality of life



Date Posted: 22 May 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.