According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each year there are more than 6 million car accidents in the United States. A person dies in an automobile accident every 12 minutes and each year, car crashes claim over 40,000 lives. The leading cause of death for people between the ages of 2 and 34 years old is vehicular crashes. Someone as injured by in a car accident every 14 seconds and about two million of the people injured in an accident suffer permanent injury each year. Car accidents of the leading cause of acquired disability nationwide. In 2008, there were over 5.8 million car accidents, 1.6 million personal injury stemming from car accidents and 40,000 people died as result.
Many people who are injured in an automobile accident suffer only minor pain and sometimes not at all. Yet there are many occasions when someone suffers a more serious personal injury, such as:
- Head and Brain Injuries: Trauma to the head can cause chronic headaches that can last for a short period of time or permanently. Brain bleeding may cause swelling of brain tissue which often leads to destruction and damage of brain cells and decreases the flow of blood to, from and within the brain, which could ultimately lead to brain damage.
- Broken bones: This occurs when a person’s arms and/or legs are hit so hard that the bone is broken. In most cases, the appendage is placed in a plaster cast for several weeks/months for the bone to heal. Sometimes the bones are crushed and then have to be amputated.
- Neck Injuries: Neck injuries are the most common injuries that occur in motor vehicle collisions. These injuries occur most commonly in rear-end collisions when the head is violently forced backwards and then rebounds forwards resulting in injuries to the muscles, ligaments, disc and other connective tissue. Greater damage can occur when the car is struck from the side, or the individual’s head is turned one way or the other or the collision results in the car spinning. The structures in the neck are weaker when the head is in an abnormal position at the time of impact. In some cases, these injuries are minor and recover within a few weeks with proper care. However, in cases where the pain continues over a long period of time, the patient may have suffered more significant ligament injury. In these cases, more specific diagnosis is needed to determine the condition of the injured ligaments in the neck that is causing ongoing pain.
A condition can occur referred to as Alteration of Motion Segment Integrity (AOMSI). This condition occurs when the forces from the collision are great enough to result in tearing of the ligaments that hold the neck vertebra together. These ligament injuries resulting in abnormal movement of the bones in the neck resulting in continued inflammation, instability of those joints and will lead to future degenerative conditions in the neck. This condition is rarely seen on standard x-rays, CAT scans or even MRI’s. The only way that this condition can be diagnosed is with a technology called Computerized Radiographic Mensuration Analysis. This is a specific x-ray procedure using forward bending and backward bending digital x-ray to measure the amount of movement between the bones in the neck or lower back. This procedure uses sophisticated computerized x-ray analysis to measure abnormal movement between the bones in the neck or lower back which indicates significantly damaged ligaments. This injury (AOMSI) is significant enough that the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fifth Edition rate this injury with a 25% impairment rating. The AMA Guides is the gold standard for determining disability by the medical and legal profession.
Recent research indicates that approximately 50% of motor vehicle collision cases resulting in an Alteration of Motion Segment Integrity. (AOMSI).
All motor vehicle collision victims should be evaluated by this technology so that a proper treatment protocol can be determined in order to document the extent of the injury.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: The most serious injury (besides death) a person can suffer from an automobile accident is damage to the spinal cord which can cause permanent paralysis. Permanent paralysis happens when nerves that are responsible for transmitting brain signals to our organs are damaged. Full paralysis happens with the spinal cord is cut and a person loses all bodily function.
- Spinal Disc Injuries: Bulges/Herniations/Extrusions: The spine is a stack of bones called vertebra. Nerves run out from the spinal cord, which is in the middle of the spine, to all parts of the body. The vertebra are separated by”shock absorbers” called intervertebral disc. The disc are often compared to a jelly doughnut. The outer layer (The “Bread” of the doughnut) is the annulus fibrosis, and is comprised of several layers of fibrocartilage. This later contains the nucleus pulposus (the “jelly “of the doughnut) and distributes pressure evenly across the disc. There are normally 23 discs in your spine: 6 in the neck, 12 in the middle back and 5 in the lower back. Herniated disc occurs when those discs rupture, allowing the jellylike center leak out which results from a tear in the central portion of the disc to extend outside the damaged outer layer and the herniated disc irritates the surrounding nerves, compressing them and can cause pain to extend into the arms or legs and even create weakness. Herniated discs are quite common in motor vehicle collision injuries. Research shows that even low speed impacts, particularly in an older person can cause significant disc damage. All victims of automobile collisions, particularly if there are complaining of pain radiating into the arms or legs should be properly diagnosed so appropriate treatment can be performed.
- Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: The brain is not much harder than Jell-O. When a whiplash type injury occurs, the head is thrown violently forwards and backwards resulting in the brain being shaken violently in your head such that the front of your brain hits the skull and the back of your brain hits the skull. This can cause real injury. This can create a mild or more serious injury to the brain resulting in symptoms such as: headache, mild confusion or memory loss, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, or mood or behavioral changes. Early symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury may appear mild–some patients do not know that they are badly hurt–but they can lead to significant, lifelong impairment in a person physically, cognitively, and psychologically. If a patient is having these symptoms after a motor vehicle collision injury they should be assessed so proper treatment can begin.
- Airbag and Seatbelt Injuries: Vehicle airbags and seatbelts offer measurable safety benefits during rollovers, frontal collisions inside collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration airbag deployment saved nearly 40,000 American lives between 1987 and 2012. Airbags are designed to work in conjunction with the seatbelts and do prevent injury or death in moderate to severe cases. Upon impact with another vehicle or objects, airbags deployed and less than 1/20 of the second. Drivers sitting close to the steering wheel tended to to have direct contact with the inflating device as it is being deployed, putting him at great risk for acial and neck trauma, cervical spine injury, soft tissue injuries, eye injuries, skin abrasions, bruises, scrapes and lacerations, concussion, rib injuries and fractures, middle back and lower back injuries, abdominal injuries, upper limb dislocations and fractures.
- Paying attention to other drivers can greatly reduce or lessen injuries and car accidents, especially if you are the person driving the car. Always avoids speeding and swerving. You may think you need to get somewhere fast or that you’ll be late for appointment, but is always better to be late than to be sorry.