Written by Dr. David Jenkins
Getting into a car accident can be a devastating experience, even when the accident is considered minor. You will not only have to worry about repairs that will need to be made to your vehicle, as well as the claims process, but also will need to be concerned for any injuries you may have received from the accident. This includes considering injuries that may show up even after the accident occurred.
There are numerous types of injuries that you can sustain from a car accident, Such factors as the design of the car, available safety systems, where the impact occurs, speed, and many other factors all come into can play in the type of injury you sustain as well as the severity that the injury is considered. Some of the most common injuries that victims of car accidents experience, either directly after the crash or in the following months include:
Soft tissue injuries occur when the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the body suffer damage. While these types of injuries are often related to sports and exercise, soft tissues injuries can also occur from impacts such as vehicle accidents. These types of injuries include sprains, strains, and pulls and often result in pain, swelling, and mobility issues. Soft tissue injuries are not always apparent immediately and might not be noticed until a few days or weeks after the injury.
These types of injuries are common in even minor car accidents and can result in broken skin, bruises, bumps, and even underlying damage, Cuts and lacerations become more severe when they are by delicate structures in the body or are caused by the protruding of a broken bone or coming into contact with a piece of the car. Even if it seems like you have only suffered a few bumps, bruises, or scrapes, it is important to make sure that everything is ok and that your wounds are properly treated to prevent infection.
Unfortunately, a common and devastating injury in both terms of immediate treatment and long-term recovery, are head injuries and brain trauma. A study performed by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia showed that 30% of teenage drivers and their passengers suffered from head injuries in their car accidents. Head trauma and brain injuries are attributed to vehicle accidents due to the velocity that the body is propelled during the accident as well as the victims head coming into contact with windshields or other parts of the car. You can also suffer a brain injury due to whiplash which is the violent movement of your body back and forth. This aggressive motion causes the brain to be injured as it floats in the skull. These types of injuries can result in loss of consciousness at the scene or severe confusion, but sometimes do not show up until some time later. Since the brain controls your body's functions, if there is any suspicion at all that you have sustained a head injury, it should be followed up on. Brain injuries and head trauma can result in severe and even lifelong consequences, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis immediately following your accident.
Drivers especially are prone to injuries in the chest area due to their proximity to the steering wheel and other protruding vehicle parts that make up the dashboard. Chest injuries can be life-threatening as the rib cage is made to protect many of your underlying vital organs such as your lungs and heart. Fractures or severe blows to the chest area can damage these organs and sometimes lead to internal bleeding which can result in necessary surgical procedures. If you have sustained any blows, bruise, fractures, or contusions in the chest area you should seek out treatment immediately to avoid severe complications.
Broken bones are a common injury seen in car accidents especially in the facial bones and extremities such as the arms and the legs. Depending on the position of your body at the time of the accident, as well as the impact that occurs, can result in broken bones. While typically broken arms and legs are apparent, facial breaks aren't always so easy to diagnose from the first look. Facial breaks can also be more complicated to repair sometimes requiring multiple surgeries to restore the construction of the face as well as functions such as breathing and eating. Most often medical personnel will treat major face fractures, but additional cosmetic surgery can be required to get the bones in the face back to normal.
One of the most serious injuries that can occur with a car accident are injuries to the spinal cord. Your spinal cord provides the signals to move your body, and when this cord suffers damage, it can result in such severe consequences such as loss of sensation or function, or even paralysis. Injuries of this nature can be the result of trauma from pieces of the car or the twisting motion of the body when impact occurs that results in displaced pieces of bone or disc fragments in the back tearing the spinal cord.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Center, a spinal cord injury sustained at age 25 can result in a lifetime medical cost of between $1 million and 5 million dollars, making it one of the most expensive auto accident injuries to receive treatment for. Treatment costs range from assistive devices, to surgical procedures, to long-term rehabilitation.
While back and neck injuries can be quite common occurrences in car accidents, they often do not present as severe until days, weeks, or even months later. Many times neck and back injuries occur from severe body jolting and movement with one of the most common neck injuries in car accidents being whiplash. Both the neck and back are created to be flexible so when there is a sudden acceleration and deceleration in the movement of the body, damage can occur. Neck and back injuries often account for injuries resulting in the most long-term pain after car accidents. These injuries can even be disabling and lead to chronic pain that reduces mobility and prevent some victims from being able to perform their normal daily tasks. Some of the common back and neck injuries that occur with vehicle accidents include cervical fractures, fractured vertebrae, herniated discs, and strain. Most treatments for these injuries involve stabilization, therapy, pain meds, and surgery though in severe cases these treatments may only serve to minimize pain.
The CDC reports that Americans will spend more than 1 million days in the hospital due to car injuries, over $18 billion in lifetime medical costs, and $33 billion in lost wages. While the injuries listed above constitute many of the common injuries that are seen in vehicle accidents, there are many other types of injuries accounting for billions of dollars in medical costs. Identifying and treating these injuries in a timely fashion will not only help you make sure your injuries are covered by your insurance claim , but also prevent minor injuries from becoming major ones. If you have suffered in a car accident, Seminole Chiropractic Center can help you with many of the injuries above and allow you to begin your healing process and set the foundation for your road to recovery.
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