There are millions of car crashes every year in the United States. While every car crash is different, each one affects our bodies and minds differently. The psychological, emotional, and physical tolls from car crashes can be mild to severe. It can even be fatal. Here are the car crash injuries and symptoms to watch for after an accident.
Physical Reactions After a Car Crash
Our bodies are experts in making compensatory mechanisms. As the name suggests, these are changes that compensate, or make up for, something that’s happened. In the case of a car crash, your body is trying to prevent injury by reacting in different ways. While your body can’t prevent some of the injuries, it can cause internal changes to prevent further injury.
Remember Newton’s First Law of Motion: an object in motion stays in motion. When you’re moving forward in a car, your body is in motion because the car you’re in is in motion. If the car gets hit, your body will continue moving forward.
Hopefully, you’re strapped in with a seatbelt. If so, your body will stop when it comes into contact with the seatbelt. In this case, only your head should move forward significantly (in a typical crash). Your head will stop when it comes into contact with another force, such as the airbag, car door, dashboard, or windshield. It may also stop with resistance from your neck as it lashes forward.
When your head stops moving, your brain will continue to move inside of your skull. Then, it will hit the inside of the skull, potentially causing a head injury. Head injuries can cause tissue and nerve damage to the brain. This may cause a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid, cessation of neurochemical functions, and increased plasticity of the brain’s neurons.
To prevent further damage to the brain, your body may increase the amount of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull to act as a cushion. Your brain may also start swelling to prevent its ability to move around in the skull. Lastly, your body may form knots or hematomas to fill empty space and act as short-term buffers against further damage.
Each one of these mechanisms may work in the short term, but they can cause further harm in the long term. The body can overcompensate, causing an overflow of fluid, brain swelling, or hematoma formation. This can cause problems with cognition and functioning.
Whiplash occurs when the head is thrown backward or forward quickly. This causes the neck to flex too far, harming the muscles and tendons. Injuries to the neck can be minor or severe, depending on how hard the impact of the crash was. The severity of the impact may also cause long-term damage to the neck, spine, and back.
Spinal trauma is particularly sensitive. You may notice that emergency medical personnel put all car crash victims on a hard board or spine stabilizer. This ensures that the patient doesn’t incur more damage on the way to the hospital.
Spinal trauma from a crashed car can cause long-term back pain, herniated discs, spinal fractures, and even paralysis. In response, your body may begin swelling around the affected muscles. This helps the body heal the muscles from the damage it incurred during the crash.
The collarbone is one of the most common fractures to occur during a car crash. Your seatbelt is in a perfect location to break it during a crash. This may sound gruesome, but breaking a collarbone is preferable to going through the front windshield.
In high-speed crashes, the ribs may also break during impact. If this happens, you may also incur lung damage since the ribs encase the lungs. On impact, every single organ moves forward until your internal body stops it. This includes your heart.
Bruising to the heart, liver, gallbladder, stomach, colon, and more is possible. In serious crashes, where an abdominal injury is sustained, you could even start bleeding from these areas if enough damage occurs. Your body may attempt to form clots to stop this, but it’s often not enough to stop the bleeding completely.
Because of the placement of the arms and legs within the vehicle, they’re some of the least protected body parts. Your extremities may flail around in car crashes, which makes them come into contact with different parts of the car during the crash.
This increases the incidence of extremity injuries, including cuts, bruises, and fractures. Each one of these problems can cause internal bleeding within the extremity. Like with abdominal injuries, the body may try to form hematomas or clots to stop the bleeding. Again, this may not be enough.
Emotional Reactions After a Car Crash
Your body may incur the most obvious changes during car crashes, but the emotional damage is just as important. Before the impact happens, your brain is already releasing adrenaline and endorphins to increase alertness and enhance mood during the crash.
The body knows what’s about to happen. So, your hormones try to make up for what’s about to happen. It may help car crash victims cope. When these hormonal changes aren’t enough, car crash victims may form post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which makes getting in a car difficult. They may not want to drive again or never want to get into a vehicle, despite their seating arrangement. These individuals may also experience heightened anxiety while riding in a car.
A Car Crash Lawyer Can Help
If you’re ever involved in a car crash, you need to get a car crash lawyer. Your body goes through traumatic changes during car crashes, and you deserve legal representation to protect yourself.
Mesa Accident Lawyers can help you settle disputes and get the financial compensation you deserve. Get in contact with a car accident attorney today, and we can begin building your personal injury case.