Being involved in a car accident can lead to a variety of serious injuries that require hospitalization and extensive treatment. Understanding the types of injuries that commonly occur can help car accident victims and their families know what to expect during recovery. This article will examine some of the most common car accident-related injuries and complications that send victims to the hospital.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are one of the most dangerous injuries that can occur during a car accident. According to the CDC, over 2.8 million Americans suffer a TBI each year and about 56,000 die from their injuries. Car accidents are a leading cause of TBIs.
When the head suddenly moves back and forth or hits against objects during a crash, the brain can get damaged. This can lead to concussions, contusions (bruising), bleeding, and other serious complications.
Concussions are one of the most common types of brain injuries from car accidents. They occur when the head shakes rapidly back and forth or slams against objects, causing the brain to bounce around inside the skull. This leads to chemical changes and damage to brain cells.
Symptoms of a concussion include:
- Memory problems
While most concussions improve with rest, some can have long-lasting symptoms if not properly treated.
Bleeding and Contusions
More serious TBIs involve bleeding (hemorrhages) and bruising (contusions) on the brain tissue itself. This can cause extensive damage and is life-threatening. Emergency neurosurgery is often required to relieve swelling and pressure on the brain.
Some concussion patients develop post-concussion syndrome, which involves concussion symptoms lasting for weeks or months. This can greatly impair their cognitive abilities and quality of life. Treatment involves both physical and mental rehabilitation.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord allows communication between the brain and body, so injuries can cause partial or total paralysis. Here are some spinal cord injuries victims may experience:
Whiplash is caused by the head jerking violently back and forth, stretching the muscles and ligaments in the neck beyond their limits. This causes pain, stiffness, and mobility issues. Soft collars, physical therapy, pain medicine, and muscle relaxers help treat the symptoms.
Discs act as cushions between the vertebrae. The force of an accident can cause discs to rupture or herniate, allowing disc material to leak and put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This requires extensive physical therapy and sometimes surgery.
Total transection, or severing of the spinal cord can lead to paraplegia (paralysis of the legs) or quadriplegia (paralysis in both arms and legs). This requires full-time nursing care, mobility assistance, and major home modifications.
Shattering force applied to bones during a car crash can lead to complex fractures requiring surgery and metal implants to stabilize.
Skull and Facial Fractures
Skull and facial bone fractures occur when the head hits the steering wheel, dashboard, or window. Surgery using plates, screws, and metal implants are required to reconstruct the bones.
It is common to break multiple ribs in high impact collisions due to the chest slamming into the steering column or airbag. This can lead to internal punctured lungs and immense pain with breathing.
Arms and legs are particularly susceptible to fractures during crashes. Splinting and casting help stabilize the bones as they heal. Physical therapy will help regain strength and mobility.
Internal Organ Damage
Internal organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys are vulnerable during car crashes. Dashboard impact, seat belts, and object penetration can crush, rupture, or detach organs from their connecting tissues. This accounts for the high percentage of car accident fatalities.
Being involved in a major car accident is an extremely traumatic event. Many victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological conditions that require extensive therapy and psychiatric treatment. Support groups can also help victims and families cope with the emotional aftermath.
Car accidents can inflict life-altering harm on the human body in the blink of an eye. Understanding the common serious injuries like brain trauma, spinal damage, broken bones, internal organ failure and emotional trauma can help victims and families know what to expect and how to deal with the recovery process. While some injuries heal over time, others cause permanent disability. Seeking legal advice is critical, since car accident injury victims have medical and financial needs that require compensation. With proper medical treatment, support, time, and rest, most victims can eventually regain functioning and get their lives back on track.
What are the most common serious injuries in car accidents?
The most common serious car accident injuries are traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, internal organ damage, and psychological trauma.
What types of brain injuries occur?
Common brain injuries include concussions, bleeding and bruising on the brain, post-concussion syndrome with lingering symptoms, and permanent damage leading to disability.
How can a car accident cause spinal cord damage?
Sudden hyperextension, hyperflexion, rotation, and compression of the neck and back during a crash can stretch, tear, and even sever the spinal cord. This can lead to temporary whiplash or permanent paralysis.
Why do car accidents often cause broken bones?
The extreme forces of collisions can easily shatter and crush bones throughout the body, especially the ribs, skull, spine, arms, and legs that take the brunt of the impact.
What internal organs are most at risk for injury in a car accident?
Organs in the abdomen like the spleen, liver, kidneys and stomach are vulnerable, as well as the heart, lungs, and major blood vessels in the chest.
How can a car accident psychologically affect victims?
Being involved in a major crash is extremely traumatic. Many victims develop PTSD, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and phobias that require extensive psychiatric treatment and therapy.