How Car and Truck Accidents Can Cause Spinal Cord Injuries
Did you know that motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in the US? Spinal cord injuries can have life-altering consequences. Here’s what you need to know about car and truck accidents and how they can cause spinal cord injuries.
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Car Accidents and Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is protected by bones and surrounding tissues, ligaments, discs, and vertebrae. A car accident can result in a sudden blow or trauma that will cause damage to the sensitive surrounding tissues. It’s also possible for the impact of a collision to cause spinal cord bleeding. If the injury spreads down the spinal cord, the results can be devastating, even deadly. You could end up with nervous system damage that interferes with your motor functioning. Whatever the case, any damage to the spinal cord could potentially lead to difficulty in everyday functioning, even if the spinal cord has not been severed. Every person’s injury outcome will vary based on the intensity of the crash, the exact location of the injury, and the person’s overall health before the injury.
What Is the Spinal Cord and How Does It Get Damaged?
The spinal cord is a spongy stack of cylinder-shaped nervous tissues. These nerve tissues are encased by vertebrae or bones that constitute the spine. Like any other nerve tissue in the body, the spinal cord is very sensitive. Because it is composed of bone and nerve tissue, any severe trauma or blunt force to the spinal cord can have harsh outcomes. Car accidents, in particular, can cause trauma that can be overbearing on the spinal cord and cause permanent damage. Spinal cord injuries are categorized as “complete” or “incomplete.”
- A complete injury is when one loses all feeling and ability to control movement below the spinal cord injury.
- An incomplete injury is when you have some motor and sensory function below the injury area. You can have varying degrees of incomplete injury.
A spinal cord injury that causes fractured vertebrae can cause pressure that leads to spinal cord deterioration over time. Spinal cord deterioration will interfere with your ability to carry out daily life activities. Or, let’s say, a disc in the spine slips out of place or becomes herniated. You might then suffer from pain and discomfort due to the pressure on your vertebrae. If your pain is debilitating and persists for an extended period, you might need surgery to return to everyday life tasks.
The Effects of Spinal Cord Injury
The effects of spinal cord injury will vary from case to case, but they often cause permanent changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions. Your ability to control limbs after spinal cord damage will depend on where the injury occurred and how severe it is.
Some possible side effects of spinal cord injury include:
- Tingling, numbness, or loss of feeling
- Discomfort while breathing or coughing
- Loss of bowel and or bladder control
- Mental, emotional, social detriment
Car accident victims should seek medical treatment as soon as possible to ensure there is no internal or unseen damage and avoid permanent damage. Since spinal cord injuries can cause permanent damage, you don’t want to risk missing your opportunity for early intervention and treatment. By failing to get prompt and proper medical attention, you could end up having to live with spinal cord injury damage for the rest of your life. It’s not uncommon for people to have a delayed onset of symptoms after a car accident. Even if the pain is minor at first or seems mild, do not overlook the importance of seeing a medical professional. Waiting to see a doctor could potentially affect your settlement value.
Types of Car Accidents That Can Lead To Spine Injuries
Head-on collisions are among the most dangerous car accidents, often resulting in spinal injuries or even death. The flexion-distraction fracture is an injury commonly seen in head-on collisions. If you’re wearing your seatbelt, the collision impact will jerk the upper part of your body forward while the bottom remains in place. This abrupt forceful movement causes the vertebrae to tear.
Read-end collisions happen when one car hits another from behind. The impact can range from a gentle bump to a full-on crash. While rear-end collisions tend to occur at lower speeds, they can still cause severe damage. These accidents often cause whiplash, a neck injury that results from a forceful back-and-force motion of the head. Such aggressive and quick movements can injure the neck and bones in the spine, spinal discs, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and other tissues in the neck.
Side-impact collision, also known as a T-bone, happens when one car hits another at a 90-degree angle. Severe injury, like spinal cord damage, is likely in these accidents due to the speed and force of the impact.
Rollovers are the second most deadly type of car crash after head-on collisions. Rollovers happen when a car traveling at high speed encounters an obstacle and “trips” or flips over. The risk for severe injuries is higher than other types of accidents because the vehicle occupants can be ejected from the car, or the roof can collapse on the people inside.
Types of Truck Accidents That Can Lead To Spine Injuries
While truck and car accidents have similarities, some types of accidents are exclusive to trucks due to their sheer size and weight. Here are some types of truck accidents that could result in spinal cord injuries:
Override is a type of rear-end collision where the truck hits a car from behind and causes the car to go under the truck. The result is often severe injuries or fatalities for occupants in the smaller car.
Rear-Underride or Side-Underride
These accidents happen when a car hits a truck from behind and gets forced under the truck. While less common, the outcome can still be devastating for the parties involved.
Jack-knife accidents result from trucks taking turns too quickly and losing control of the vehicle. Such accidents have a high incidence of spinal cord injury outcomes and other catastrophic injuries.
Tips to Avoid Spinal Cord Injuries in Car Accidents
By practicing a few preventative safety measures, you can significantly reduce your odds of being in an accident and sustaining spinal cord injuries. Here are some tips:
- Always wear your seatbelt
- Make sure children are secured in their car seats and their seatbelts are snug
- Get regular maintenance checks on your vehicle
- Make sure your airbags are in operating condition
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
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