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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Punch Injuries: Insights into Intentional Closed Fist Injuries

Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

Objectives: This study sought to investigate the patterns of injury resulting from a punch mechanism and to investigate the associated psychopathology present in patients with these injuries.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of patients with hand radiographs ordered from the emergency department allowed for identification of patients with a punch mechanism. We recorded injury patterns and queried patients’ medical records for associated psychopathology.

Results: 1,292 patients underwent hand radiographs during a one-year time period; 172 patients (13%) were radiographed following an intentional punch injury, identifying 76 fractures in 70 patients. Males contributed a greater proportion of patients presenting with punch injury when compared to females (80% vs. 20%). Males were more likely to sustain fracture from a punch mechanism (48% vs. 11%, OR 7 [95% CI 2.3-20.9]), but were less likely to have preexisting documented psychiatric disease (23% vs. 49%, OR 3.1 [95% CI 1.4-6.7]). Of all fractures, 61% were to the fifth metacarpal, 21% were to the remainder of the metacarpals, and the remaining were fractures to phalanges and bones of the wrist.

Conclusion: Women are less likely to present with punch injury and are less likely to sustain a fracture when they do present but have more associated psychiatric disease. Both men and women presenting with punch injuries have a higher prevalence of psychiatric disease than the background incidence in the population as a whole. Although punch injuries result in a significant number of boxer fractures, a number of other injuries are associated with punch mechanisms. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(1):6-10.]

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