Car accidents often result in injuries. While some injuries like lacerations and broken bones are immediately obvious, hidden injuries are not. They can occur right away or develop in the hours, days, and weeks after the crash.
During a traumatic event, a person’s fight-or-flight response kicks in, and the adrenaline rush they experience can mask the pain of a serious injury. Even if you feel fine after a crash, you could have internal damage that you cannot feel or see right away.
It is important to be proactive about seeking medical care after any sort of trauma to the body. If left untreated, some hidden injuries can lead to permanent impairment.Hidden injuries are not visible and can be difficult to diagnose.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries involve the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the body. They can happen during exercise, sports, other activities, or from acute trauma to the body, like a fall or car accident.
A sprain is the overstretching or tearing of the ligaments that connect bones together. Strains are injuries of the tendons that connect muscle to bone or to the muscles themselves. Contusions, or bruises, occur when blunt force trauma to the body crushes the tissues under the skin.
Soft tissue injuries vary in type and severity. Severe sprains and strains may require surgery and extensive physical therapy to recover mobility and function in the affected areas.
Whiplash falls under the umbrella of soft tissue injuries. Whiplash typically happens when the head and neck are quickly and forcefully pushed backward and then forward (or vice versa), almost like the cracking of a whip.
Whiplash is highly common in head-on and rear-end car accidents. Typical symptoms of whiplash are neck and shoulder pain and stiffness, lower back pain, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, and problems with concentration and memory.
According to Mayo Clinic, whiplash symptoms generally develop within days of the initial trauma and may take weeks, months, or even years to fully disappear.
Concussions and Other Head Injuries
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that happens when a sudden forceful force causes the head to move back and forth. That jolting causes the brain to shift inside the skull, which can result in changes within the brain.
Many people brush off the signs of a concussion as routine after a car accident, but these changes may indicate serious trauma to the brain. Concussion symptoms include:
- Balance problems.
- Mood changes.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Sensitivity to light and sound.
- Headaches or pressure in the head.
While concussions are common after car accidents, drivers and passengers are also at risk of skull fractures and other closed head injuries that can affect cognitive, behavioral, and emotional functions.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal column allows the body to twist, bend, and stand. Spinal nerves send messages to the brain that allow us to feel pain, temperature, and other sensations. Damage to any of these vital structures can cause pain and impact mobility and function.
Some spinal cord injuries that happen as a result of a forceful car crash are not immediately noticeable, especially when the adrenaline is coursing through the body.
Spongy, gel-filled discs cushion and separate the vertebra of the spine. Age, disease, and trauma can rupture the outer shell of these discs, causing the gel to push outward and potentially irritate or compress the surrounding nerves. Herniated or slipped disc pain can be sharp and lingering and can worsen over time.
A spinal fracture is another serious and painful injury that can be misdiagnosed after a car accident. This is a break in any of the vertebrae that form the spine, causing intense pain.
Pressure on the spinal cord (spinal stenosis) can happen when a collision causes narrowing of the column that surrounds the spinal cord. Bruising, stretching, and other damage to the spinal cord itself can lead to reduced movement and sensation and permanent paralysis in severe cases.
High-impact collisions often cause internal damage to organs, particularly the liver and kidneys. These injuries require immediate medical attention and can lead to internal bleeding and permanent organ damage. These hidden injuries are among the common types of fatal injuries caused by car accidents.
Severe pain, vomiting blood, low blood pressure, trouble breathing, and shock are all possible signs of internal bleeding or organ damage. Call 911 if you suspect internal injuries to anyone at the accident scene even if there are no obvious symptoms.
Similar to physical injuries, it is common to emotionally feel okay initially after a car accident, only to go on to experience symptoms of a hidden condition hours or days later. The mental toll of a serious car wreck can affect a person’s quality of life. Someone involved in a life-changing car accident may have anxiety, depression, fear, and/or depression. They may be afraid to drive again and have trouble sleeping, working, and socializing.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a specific mental health condition that is triggered when witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event. Someone with PTSD may have debilitating flashbacks, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts that make it hard to adjust back into life.
Symptoms vary in intensity and frequency, but they may come on when the person is reminded of the initial traumatic event. For someone involved in a catastrophic car accident, just getting in the car, or going for a drive, can be triggering. Treatment is essential for helping car accident survivors process these emotions and begin the healing process.
Loveland Car Accident Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Advocate for Injured Clients Across Ohio
Traumatic injuries can be life-changing in many ways. Our Loveland car accident lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office fight for compensation for those who have been injured in collisions. Call us at 513-488-1135 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Loveland, Ohio, we serve clients in Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.