Auto accidents are a serious problem in the the US, every day about 7,000 people are hurt in car accidents. In Minnesota alone, their are around 70,000 car accidents, with about half of those reporting injuries.
Wounds from these accidents can vary from minor scrapes and bruises to much more serious injuries. Generally, accidental injuries affect each body part a little differently. Treatment and recovery after injuries also differs depending on the body part and severity.
Here’s what medical professionals know about auto accident injuries from head to toe.
- Head and brain injuries — Drivers and passengers are susceptible to head injuries due to hitting a windshield, side window, roof, steering wheel, loose objects or other people.A common injury is a concussion caused by a blow to the head. With a concussion (also called a traumatic brain injury), your brain bounces around inside your skull. This causes chemical changes in your brain. You may not notice symptoms right away. You should know the symptoms such as headache, neck pain, nausea or dizziness. Sometimes the symptoms can take days or weeks to appear.Treatment: You’ll want to see a health care professional. The primary treatment for a mild concussion is rest. We recommend you cut back on physical activities and activities that require a lot of concentration. If more severe concussion symptoms are present, you may need to go to the hospital. You may have bleeding under the skull (subdural hematoma). Bleeding in the skull is a medical emergency.Recovery: For mild concussions, most patients notice symptoms diminish in 2 to 3 weeks after onset. The recovery from a subdural hematoma is more complicated and depends on the severity of the injury.
- Neck injuries such as whiplash — It’s common for rear or side impact crashes to cause your neck to snap quickly. Injuries can range from mild neck strain, to dislocation of vertebrae (the bones of the spine).Treatment: Mild neck strain may be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. A dislocation or other serious vertebrae injury may require surgery.Recovery: Whiplash symptoms can last several weeks. Recovery time after surgery will vary depending on the procedure needed. Full recovery can take months.
- Psychological injuries — People naturally focus on the physical injuries of a crash, but a traumatic event can cause mental health issues, too. The mental trauma can affect both the driver and passengers. Issues can include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.Treatment: A counselor may suggest anxiety management, meditation or other tools to reduce anxiety.Recovery: There is no set time for recovery from the psychological trauma. Seek guidance from a mental health care professional if you have concerns about the mental aspects of recovery
Both the injuries and treatment can vary widely after an accident. We’ve laid out some general recovery timelines, but actual recovery will depend on injury severity and the patient’s age and general health. Younger healthy patients tend to recover faster.
Accident injuries heal faster if you carefully follow your clinician’s advice, participate in physical therapy as recommended, get plenty of sleep and eat a well-balanced diet.
To increase your family’s safety while traveling, always wear your seatbelt, drive the speed limit and avoid distractions while you’re driving.