According to statistics, in the United States, authorities register an average of six million car accidents occurring every year, with three million people experiencing injuries.
While seatbelts and modern vehicle safety technologies can reduce the risk of permanent car accident damages by fifty percent, still, millions of people experience traumatic, visible injuries, and some discrete ones. Among all, spinal cord injuries caused by car crashes need a closer look. It is because they are the leading cause of paralysis across the nation and mostly because their symptoms can go unnoticed in the beginning.
Car Accidents and Spinal Cord Injuries: An Overlook
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than six million people in the United States are living with one form of paralysis or another. Research showed that the leading causes of paralysis were stroke and spinal cord injuries. Prevention studies also revealed that the most common cause of spinal fractures in developing countries correlate with road traffic accidents. Moreover, vehicle occupants make about 40% of all spinal injuries related to car accidents.
As much as we all wish for perfect safety, we are not there yet. In the past years, technology and the IoT paradigm advanced vehicular safety. We now have anti-collision measures, driver-assisting software, automatic systems, connectivity, and more. Yet, the issue of spinal cord injuries remains, from both a medical and legal point of view. The problem with spinal cord damage is that it can show symptoms and can lead to debilitating and life-threatening effects days, months, or years after the accident. Whom do you blame then?
The first thing you do after a collision with another vehicle is to call for medical assistance. You should do that even if you collided with an object (a tree, a concrete fence, a building, or a piece of machinery). Even if you got into a minor car accident and it seems you made it out seemingly unscathed, you are still not safe from hidden health risks.
It is what authorities, doctors, and lawyers recommend, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the C.D.C. Even if you have a post-crash headache or some vague back pain, you should still go for a full medical check-up. Traumatic spinal cord injuries are hard to miss. It is the discrete nerve damages and spinal cord compression that you should consider.
Car Accidents and Discrete Spinal Cord Injuries: When You Should See a Doctor Immediately
A severe spinal cord injury usually results in extreme pain or pressure in your back, neck, or head, bodily weakness, motor incoordination, balance, and walking difficulties, numbness in your extremities, loss of bladder/bowel control, breathing problems, and paralysis, among others.
However, in case you feel nothing of the above after a car accident, and you think you are out of the woods, you may not be yet. In case you are feeling any of the following symptoms later after the accident, you should get a thorough exam for nerve damage or spinal cord compression:
- Back, neck, or lower back stiffness;
- Irradiating pain to areas of your body such as arms and fingers, legs (sciatica pain), buttocks, chest area;
- Tingling, prickling, or burning sensations in your fingers or toes;
- Feet weakness that causes you to develop a limp;
- Loss of sexual drive and ability;
- Troubles with hand coordination;
- Too much or too little sweating;
- An issue with positional awareness;
- Twitching, and more.
According to experts in medicine, a person can experience over one hundred types of nerve damage. Not all of these various types correlate with spinal cord injuries. All these injuries have different causes and require specialized treatments. Besides the immediate medical attention you need, getting a spinal cord injury lawyer is also recommendable.
An injury attorney specialized in spinal cord injuries could help you file a claim even if some time passed between the time of the car accident and the moment your symptoms began to show.
Spinal cord injuries, no matter how discrete or unimportant they seem, are not something to ignore, especially if you have been recently in a car collision.
No matter how much you trust your new vehicle and its safety technologies, and no matter how careful you are as a driver, accidents do happen. Just make sure you always ask for a thorough medical check-up and a lawyer consultation right after a car accident, no minor it is!