Physical medicine and therapy is usually recommended following any traumatic injury, whether falls, sports injuries, on-the-job injuries, or automobile accidents. Not surprisingly, many rehab doctors specialize in certain types of injuries and patients, so if you are in a car accident, how do you know where to go and whom to choose?
One of the overlooked aspects of automobile accidents is who pays for the care. Usually, automobile insurance does, not your medical insurance, and the settlement of the cases – not to mention the process – is done quite differently from the way medical insurance is handled.
What kinds of injuries are common with car accidents?
Brain injuries. Traumaticbrain injury, or TBI, is very common in car accidents. It may be mild, like a concussion that resolves naturally after a few weeks of rest, or it can be severe enough to permanently impair critical functions such as speech, vision, concentration, memory, and emotional control.
Head injuries, such as eye injuries, can result in partial vision loss or even blindness. Injuries to the ear can lead to loss of hearing, dizziness, vertigo, and balance problems. Fractures of the face or jaw and dental injuries, are also common.
Whiplash, an injury to the neck, is the most common automobile accident injury. With sudden acceleration from being rear-ended, the neck stretches and snaps back into place, damaging vertebrae, ligaments or disks, or the spinal cord itself. This can result in paralysis or loss of function in any of the limbs. Even mild neck and back injuries can result in chronic pain and headaches that significantly impact the quality of life.A neck injury may also include the larynx or trachea. Broken necks in a car accident don’t always cause instant death. Suffocation from damage to the windpipe may also occur.
Chest injuries are also common when the sternum impacts the steering wheel. The impact of a collision can break ribs and/or the breast bone, especially if the driver or passenger was not wearing a seat belt. The severity of chest injuries has been greatly reduced by airbags, which are now required in all new cars. But even with airbags, fractures and injuries to organs still occur.
A rupture to thediaphragm, which is a tear in the muscle across the bottom of the rib cage that is necessary for breathing, is a common result of blunt trauma to the trunk or lower chest.
Compression fracturesto the pelvis and abdomen are also common in car accidents. Hip fracture and injury to the abdominal organs are also frequent. The liver, spleen and kidneys are often injured in front- and side-impact collisions.
The most common leg and knee injuries in car accidents are impact injuries caused by smashing into a part of the car. Wounds range from contusions to multiple fractures. Knees are also susceptible to tearing of cartilage if they are abruptly twisted or turned. Strained, sprained, or broken feet and ankles are often seen in car accident, too.