Injured in a Car Accident? Read This Right Now!

Car accident injuries are quite common in developed countries, due to the sheer volume of vehicular traffic coupled by concurrent consumption of alcohol or talking on the phone while driving. Car accident injuries can be fatal or have  serious consequences irrespective of the initial severity of the injury. Since, an innocuous appearing head injury or whiplash injury can have long term detrimental effects on the nerves and brain. The effects of many of these injuries are not seen immediately after the accident, and so it leaves a person with a false sense of well-being. Moreover, later he may even be targeted by attorneys of the accused of making a false claim. Thus, it is very important to have a complete evaluation of brain and spine, along with other involved body parts, in a suspected car accident head injury or whiplash injury.

When injured in a car accident, one can ensure the integrity of their brain (presence of brain injury) by this simple checklist. It is quite obvious, that after suffering from a head trauma, this is for your companion or passerby’s to take note of, or something you can check retrospectively after regaining consciousness !)

  • Did you lose consciousness just after the injury?
  • Was there any blood coming out from the nose or ear?
  • Did you have an episode of projectile vomiting?
  • Did you have an epileptic seizure after the injury?

If the answer to any of these questions is a “yes”, then you could probably have an internal head injury, which needs to be urgently evaluated. A CT scan at the nearest ER, along with a full neurological evaluation is necessary. If the results of the CT scan do not document any injury to the brain, then there is no need to worry anymore. However, if you have an internal injury, it will have to be managed by a neurosurgeon on an emergency basis.

Automobile accident injuries, especially those in which your car has been rammed at the rear end by another vehicle, commonly lead to whiplash injury. A whiplash injury is an injury of the soft tissues, like muscles and ligaments, of the neck. Though, this injury manifests itself after a few days and it can lead to chronic pain and disability. It should not be confused with a broken neck, which is a fracture or dislocation of the spinal vertebrae of the neck. The latter type of injury is either fatal due to pressure on the vital areas of the brain-stem or leads to a full blown paralysis, due to pressure on the spinal cord. Whiplash injury is associated with a somewhat long-term course, with propagation of the soft tissue injury to cause improper movement at the spinal joints leading to early neck arthritis or cervical spondylosis.

Whiplash injury or a broken neck demands a complete spine evaluation. This is done by an orthopedic doctor at the nearest ER. An x-ray of the neck and back, for viewing the integrity of the vertebral column is primarily done. Even if these are normal the presence of a whiplash injury cannot be ruled out. The best investigation for this purpose is an MRI, which clearly shows the presence of any soft tissue injury like whiplash. If MRI is normal then there can be no reason to further worry about whiplash injury.

Whiplash injury if present can be treated effectively by immobilization of the neck for a week with a hard collar. This should be followed by physical therapy in the form of neck strengthening exercises to overcome the stiffness due to the non-use of the neck muscles. Overuse of the collar beyond a weeks period leads to only increased weakness and stiffness of neck muscles and so should not be done at any cost. Reevaluation of the integrity of soft tissues of neck with an MRI before resuming daily activities can help to determine the fitness status of an individual for occupational purposes.


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