Feet, rather than fists, the most dangerous bodily weapon to use in assaults

Non-firearm weapon use and injury severity -- Priorities for prevention

Feet, rather than fists, are the most dangerous bodily weapon available, reveals research on violent assaults, published in the journal Injury Prevention.

The researchers base their findings on an assessment of nearly 25,000 people treated in emergency care in and around Cardiff, Wales between 1999 and 2005. All had sustained injuries during acts of violence.

Injury severity was scored using validated measures, and the mode of the injury recorded. More than 31,000 injuries were treated, with men accounting for three quarters of those requiring treatment. Most had one injury.

The age at which a person was most likely to sustain a serious injury peaked at 47.

Almost two thirds reported being attacked by just one assailant, but one in four said they had been assaulted by three or more people at the same time.

Around one in five injuries were inflicted using a weapon of some sort, more or less equally divided between sharp and blunt objects.

The use of weapons was significantly more likely to cause serious injury than the use of body parts, overall, the findings showed.

But, in descending order, feet, blunt objects, other body parts, and sharp objects were significantly more likely to inflict serious injuries than the use of fists, which were involved in over half of all injuries.

While feet were used in only 7% of assaults, they were the body part most likely to inflict serious injuries—considerably more so than fists.

And the results showed that kicking caused more severe injuries than the use of sharp objects, which included knives, bottles, and glasses.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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