Comprehension and Vocabulary – Text 3: A broken bone

Read the text below. Then complete the exercises that follow.

A very common emergency is a broken bone. A bone is usually broken directly across its width, but can also be fractured lengthwise, obliquely, or spirally. Fractures are divided into two main types; closed (or simple) and open (or compound). In a closed fracture the broken bone ends remain beneath the skin and little of surrounding tissue is damaged; in an open fracture one or both bone ends project through the skin. Fractures may also be classified according to the shape or pattern of the break.

Most fractures are caused by a sudden injury that exerts more force on the bone than it can withstand. The force may be direct, as when a finger is hit with a hammer, or indirect, as when twisting the foot exerts severe stress on the tibia (skin).

Common sites of fracture include the hand, the wrist, the ankle joint, the clavicle (collar-bone) and the neck of the femur (thigh-bone) or hip, usually as a result of a fall.

If a fracture is suspected, it is best not to have the victim test it by putting pressure on it – by walking, for example. If a leg fracture is suspected and help is on the way, the victim should not be moved. The injured limb should be supported by placing one hand above the fracture and the other below it. If there is a long delay before help arrives, the injured leg should be immobilized by using the uninjured leg as a splint. Padding should be placed between the legs, especially between bony prominence (e.g. knees and ankles) and hollows should be filled. The uninjured leg should be gently brought alongside the injured one. Another person should continue to support the injured limb until immobilization is complete.

If it is essential to move the victim, a long, padded splint should also be placed along the outside of the injured leg. The victim’s ankles and feet should be tied together with a figure-of-eight bandage (which should pass around the splint if one is used). The bandage should be secured on the uninjured side. If the fracture is near the ankle, it may be necessary to modify the figure-of-eight bandage to avoid bandaging over the fracture site

Other bandages should then be tied around the knees, and above and below the fracture site. The fracture site itself should not be bandaged over. Do not bandage below the fracture if it is near the ankle. If a splint is being used, also bandage around the upper thighs. All knots should be tied on the uninjured side.

The injured person should not be given any food or liquid in case a general anaesthetic is needed later.

Checking Comprehension 

Mark each statement below T (true) or F (false). Correct the statements that are false.

___ 1. A bone may be fractured in a variety of ways.

___ 2. To find out if your leg is fractured after a fall, try walking on it.

___ 3. The victim should be immobilized immediately once a fracture is suspected.

___ 4. Splinting is necessary when giving first aid to a person suffering from a suspected or known fracture.

___ 5. It is alright to give water to the injured person to drink

___ 6. We should avoid bandaging on or near the site of the fracture.

Vocabulary Practice

Match the medical words with the common words that mean the same by writing the correct numbers on the lines. Use a dictionary, if necessary.

1. fracture _______ shin

2. tissue _______ ankle bones

3. clavicle _______ finger bones

4. femur _______ kneecap

5. carpals _______ a group of similar cells that work together to perform a particular function

6. phalanges _______ a break in a bone

7. patella _______ shoulder bone

8. tibia _______ wrist bones

9. fibula _______ smaller of two lower leg bones

10. tarsals _______ largest of two bones of the lower leg