November 7, 2023

Hidden Injuries After A Car Accident: What To Look For

By: Feltoon Law 

Hidden Injury after a car accident-feltoon, law PLLC

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The stress and adrenaline of a crash can often hide pain, resulting in hidden injuries after a car accident. The full extent of these injuries are often underestimated, as the full extent of symptoms can appear gradually over the following hours and days. 

This article provides an overview of typical car accident injuries and their symptoms, aiming to help you safeguard against worsening injuries.

Recognizing the prevalence of these hidden injuries is not just essential for your safety; it’s a crucial step toward receiving timely medical attention.

Common Hidden Brain Injuries From Car Accidents

Concussions

A concussion is a mild but prevalent form of TBI that occurs when the brain is forcefully shaken in the skull due to the sudden and forceful movements experienced during a collision. Although not always immediately evident, concussions from car accidents can have serious consequences if left undiagnosed.

Symptoms may include headache, confusion, dizziness, memory problems, nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, and mood changes. These symptoms may appear mild initially, but can worsen over time. Therefore, it’s important to seek medical evaluation as soon as these symptoms appear.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injuries encompass a range of injuries to the brain that result from a sudden, external force applied to the head. TBIs can vary in severity, from mild to severe, and can have a wide range of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects. These injuries often go unnoticed initially, so recognizing the signs and symptoms of TBI is crucial for early detection. Types of TBI injuries include brain bruises, skull fractures, blood clots (hematoma). and penetrating injury from external objects. Common symptoms of TBIs include difficulty concentrating, confusion, memory problems, blurred vision, nausea, and dizziness.

Common Hidden Back Injuries From Car Accidents

Herniated Disk

Herniated disks, also known as slipped or ruptured discs, is a common back injuries from car accidents. The discs in our spine act as the cushions between the spine’s vertebrae, helping provide us with flexibility and shock absorption. 

When the soft inner material of the disk protrudes through to the tougher outer layer, they herniate, putting pressure on nearby nerves. Car accidents can cause the spine to twist and flex in ways that put excessive pressure on the discs in the neck or lower back. 

Symptoms of a herniated disk can include pain, numbness, and weakness of the affected area as well as radiating pain down the arms and legs. 

The pain can range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain that interferes with daily activities. Recognizing these symptoms is key, as early diagnosis and treatment can help alleviate pain and prevent further complications. 

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can vary in type and severity, depending on the location of the injury and the extent of damage. There are two primary categories of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. Complete spinal cord injuries result in paralysis of the body while incomplete injuries damage the spinal cord but still leave some degree of sensory or motor function intact. While complete spinal cord injuries are immediately apparent, incomplete injuries are more likely to be hidden injuries after a car accident. Types of incomplete spinal cord injuries include:
  • Anterior Cord Syndrome: This injury results from damage to the front of the spinal cord. It can lead to a loss of pain and temperature sensation.
  • Posterior Cord Syndrome: This injury results from damage to the back of the spinal cord. It can lead to a loss of the body’s ability to sense its relative position and movement.
  • Conus Medullaris Syndrome: This injury affects the legs and lower abdomen due to damage to the lower end of the spinal cord. It results in compromised motor and sensory functioning as well as difficulties controlling the bowel and bladder.

Common External Injuries From Car Accidents

Burn Injuries

Burn injuries can occur at various points during and after a car accident. These injuries can occur when vehicles catch fire, when hot surfaces or fluids come into contact with the skin, or during the activation of airbags. The severity of a burn injury often depends on factors like the temperature, duration of exposure, and the affected body area.

Lacerations and Abrasions

Lacerations, abrasions, and bruises are some of common visible wounds that can result from a car accident. Lacerations can range from minor cuts or gashes to deep wounds that require medical attention. Abrasions, or “road rash” occurs when friction occurs between the skin and a rough surface. 

After a car accident, it is important to conduct a visual scan of yourself and of any passengers for external injuries. That way you can quickly make note of any external injuries that you may have been unaware of otherwise.

Other Common Hidden Injuries from Car Accidents

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries affect the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the body and can lead to pain and discomfort. Types of damage include sprains, strains, and bruising and most commonly affect the ankles or wrists. Symptoms of soft tissue injuries include reduced range of motion, pain, swelling, and muscle stiffness.

Whiplash

Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries and can occur at speeds as low as 5-10 mph. After a sudden stop or crash, the head and neck are suddenly forced back and forth, causing damage to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck. 

Mild cases of whiplash include mild neck pain, headaches, and discomfort. However, more severe symptoms like blurred vision, dizziness, muscle weakness, spasms, and concentration problems can present themselves days after the incident. Since symptoms rarely manifest at their full extent immediately following a crash, whiplash is an especially prevalent hidden injury after a car accident.

Common Psychological Effects From Car Accidents

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD, is a mental health condition that can develop in response to a traumatic event. Individuals dealing with PTSD from a car accident can deal with a range of emotional and psychological symptoms that may affect their daily life as well as their overall quality of life.

PTSD symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, emotional numbness, irritability, and hyper-vigilance. These symptoms can manifest in various ways, with common triggers including the sight, sounds, or smells associated with the accident. Further, many individuals with PTSD may also struggle with sleep disturbances, affecting their overall well-being. 

Other Psychological Effects

Even without a formal PTSD diagnosis, individuals can suffer from sleep disturbances, mood swings, numbness, or depression after a car accident. Other possible psychological injuries include a phobia of being in a car or driving, survivor’s guilt, and memory issues. If you are suffering from any psychological injury in response to a car accident, it is important to seek help from mental health services.

Legal Consideration

If you have been in a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you can seek compensation for your injuries. When you work with a trusted personal injury attorney, you may be able to receive compensation for lost wages, medical bills, vehicle damage, or any pain and distress you dealt with due to the accident. In Austin, TX personal injury attorney Feltoon Law, PLLC is. Call today to learn more or schedule a consultation completely free of charge.

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