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Car Crashes and the Injuries They Cause

What's the most common car-related injury? It's probably not what you think. According to studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most common car-related injuries by far are caused by closing a finger in a door. Anyone who's broken a hand or a thumb in a car door knows how painful it can be, but most of the time, such an injury is not serious.

Most car accidents, unfortunately, can have much more severe consequences. If you've been in a car accident, you could end up needing physical therapy, costly medication, hospital care, and the services of a car accident attorney. Here are some of the most common injuries caused by car crashes, and the treatments they may require.

Lacerations and Broken Bones

Bruises, cuts, and small fractures account for some of the more common injuries that occur in a car accident. Broken glass, flying metal and plastic, and even objects inside the car can all cause bruises, cuts and lacerations. Injuries can range from minor cuts and abrasions to internal injuries and bleeding, which are very serious and require immediate medical attention.
Fractured ribs are also a common consequence of head-on or rear-end collisions. In severe cases, a fractured rib can puncture the lungs, making it a potentially life-threatening injury. Legs, knees, ankles, and feet also frequently suffer breaks or tendon injuries in collisions, requiring anything from casts and splints to complete reconstruction surgery afterward.

Brain and Head Injuries

The impact of a collision can cause concussions and traumatic brain injuries. There are both "closed" head injuries, usually caused by blunt trauma, and "open" injuries, where the skull or even the brain can be punctured. Common symptoms of all head injuries can include headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, memory problems, nausea, and even speech problems and personality changes.
Most brain injuries occur from a side impact collision. Some serious brain injuries do not show symptoms for some time after the accident, which is why seeking medical attention and getting checked out right after an accident is important. Even what seems to be a trivial bump on the head can have major consequences later on.

Neck and Back Injuries

Neck and back injuries are a common occurrence in auto accidents. The most common neck injury is whiplash, which is an injury to the neck caused by the jarring impact of a collision, most commonly caused by rear-end collisions. Reducing a person's available range of movement, whiplash is painful and may impede a person's normal daily routine. Whiplash can be treated with rest, pain relievers, and possibly physical therapy or chiropractic treatment. All neck injuries should be treated as serious — left untreated or undiagnosed; a neck injury could mean lifelong pain.
More serious is a herniated disc. In some cases, the jolt of an impact can cause a spinal disc to move out of its proper alignment, causing numbness, pain, and pinched nerves. Physical therapy and sometimes surgery is required to address a herniated disc.
One of the most serious injuries that can result from a car accident is a spinal cord injury, which can debilitate a person. Severe spinal cord trauma can cause numbness, pain, incontinence, or even paralysis. Spinal cord injuries can be very serious, and often require surgery and / or extensive physical therapy.

Psychological Injuries

A car crash can be a serious trauma, not only for the body, but for the mind. Many victims of car crashes suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, manifesting in anxiety, depression, and isolation. Victims may need medication and psychological counseling. Like many injuries, psychological damagemay not show up for weeks, months, or years, and can be difficult to spot and diagnose, even for those closest to the victim.
There's no way to predict how a car accident will affect a person's life. A car might get totaled in a devastating accident and the driver might walk away without injury, while a simple 5 mph collision could cause life-changing injuries. Most importantly, not all accident injuries are evident right away, which is why it's so important to seek medical treatment and know what your legal rights and liabilities are.

Noble McIntyre is the senior partner and owner of McIntyre Law, a firm staffed by experienced Oklahoma car accident attorneys. We work hand in hand with Tulsa chiropractor Dr. Justin Snyder of ,Snyder Chiropractic & Acupuncture to help those impacted by injury due to automobile accidents.
November 05, 2012
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Dr. Justin Snyder