The AirSafe Journal published a report on head injury risks in 1999 based on a study released by the Flight Safety Foundation. This study was authored by Dr. Leo Rozmaryn, an orthopedic surgeon and medical director of Workplace Dynamics. The study claims that head injuries caused by objects falling from overhead storage bins can affect the patient months after the injury was sustained.
The findings of Dr. Rozmaryn’s study were based on a survey of 462 falling baggage incidents on the 757 of an unnamed major US airline during the mid-1990s. Of these events, a person was reported struck in 397 cases, and in about a third of these, the person involved suffered from bruises and lacerations. Around 90% of those injured are aisle seat passengers.
Dr. Rozmaryn further stated that baggage can fall from overhead compartments if they shift in flights or if the overhead bins are overloaded. Flight attendants are just as susceptible to baggage injuries as passengers. It was reported that boxes, picture frames and other oddly shaped items cause most number of injuries at 80%.
Minimal traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is the one Dr. Rozmaryn named as the most serious injury a patient can sustain in such accidents. In this case, the patient develops the following postconcussive symptoms:
Ringing in the ears
Sensitivity to noise
Double or blurred vision
Sensitivity to light
Even if a passenger has not shown visible lacerations, bruises or other symptoms immediately following the incident, it does not mean that no injuries have been sustained. Symptoms may appear and worsen 48 hours after the initial trauma. It was also cited in the study that 20 to 60% of passengers who had heavy items falling on their heads still feel the effects of the injury three months after.