Car accidents vary in severity from an annoying “rear-ender” to fatal highway rollovers. These accidents cause varying degrees of damage to the car, and similarly, varying degrees of personal injury to the people involved in the accident. Injuries range from minor bumps and bruises to spinal injuries to traumatic brain injuries and even death. In this article, we summarise the most common injuries incurred by car accidents in Australia.
Closed head injuries can range from mild concussion to severe traumatic brain injury. The impact of a collision can cause the brain to move within the skull causing bruising and internal bleeding. Sometimes there is no external evidence of the injury. Symptoms of a mild head injury can include fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, poor concentration and mood changes. Concussion symptoms can be debilitating and can last for days, weeks, months or even longer. People who have had one concussion are often prone to having more (and more severe) concussions in the future. Severe brain injuries can be caused by a closed head injury or a penetrating head injury. Severe brain injury symptoms include difficulty speaking, hearing loss, memory loss, periods of unconsciousness and seizures.
People often complain of “whiplash” symptoms after an accident. Neck and back injuries are very common following a car accident. They can range from sprains, pinched nerves, disc bulges or ruptures to severe spinal cord injuries.
Sprains and strains are caused when the muscles around the spine are suddenly stretched or torn. Our bodies are simply not designed to withstand the impact of a car accident. Sprains and strains can be the cause of headaches, fatigue, muscle spasms and a reduced range of movement in your neck and back.
Pinched nerves can cause inflammation or be irritated by a herniated disc. Nerve injuries can result in muscle weakness, pain shooting down your arms or your legs and numbness or tingling in various parts of your body.
Ruptured or herniated discs can cause significant pain and discomfort. They may be treated with therapy and medication, or may require surgery to repair the bulge.
Severe spinal cord injuries can cause permanent disability such as paraplegia or worse. These injuries often lead to secondary conditions such as infections, pneumonia and internal bleeding.
People often don’t appreciate the emotional toll that accidents can have on a victim. Post traumatic stress disorder is a common condition that people suffer from after an accident. These psychological responses can help people survive a traumatic event, but they can also cause severe ongoing problems, especially if they are not diagnosed or treated. Common symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, depression, paranoia and disturbed sleep patterns.