Bottom Line: Whether you’re driving to work or taking a big family vacation, an unexpected car accident can cause painful injuries that may impact you for months and years to come. The weight of your vehicle combined with your speed can create a tremendous amount of force. During an auto accident, that force gets transferred directly to your body! Even "low speed" collisions can create enough force to cause serious injuries.
Why it Matters: Seat belts save millions of lives each year and should be used every time you enter a vehicle. No questions. What you may not know is that they also can contribute to a few of the most common spinal injuries seen following an auto accident. The sudden stop or change in direction that often occurs during a car accident can place a tremendous amount of force on your chest. Your unsecured arms and legs can also strike your vehicle’s interior, causing injury. Here are a few of the most common injuries that occur during a car accident.
Head Injuries: Striking your head against the steering wheel, dashboard, or window can result in severe injury such as a concussion (which is considered a mild traumatic brain injury).
Spinal Injuries: The competing forces experienced during a car accident can result in spinal injuries like instability, whiplash, or herniated discs.
Arm or Leg Injuries: Injuries to your shoulders (if you're holding the wheel) or your knees (if they hit the door or dashboard) are very common during a car accident.
Next Steps: If you're in a car accident, regardless of whether it's major or minor, it is important to seek medical attention. Properly documenting your cuts and scrapes, evaluating your spine, and evaluating if you've suffered any head injuries is nearly impossible to do without the help of a trained medical professional, so don’t put it off. Make a mental note right now to make it a priority and know that we’re always here to help if you have any questions or have recently experienced an auto accident yourself.
Science Source(s): The Impact of Musculoskeletal Injuries Sustained in Road Traffic Crashes on Work-Related Outcomes: a Protocol for a Systematic Review. BMC. 2018.