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Catastrophic spinal injuries can occur in car crashes

When someone is involved in a car crash, there is a risk that they could suffer a traumatic spinal injury. These injuries can be life-threatening and debilitating to the victims. In some unfortunate cases, life as the person knew it prior to the wreck will never be the same.

Spinal fractures can cause permanent damage to the spinal cord. In some cases, the fractures may no longer be able to support the weight of the discs above them. This type of crushing damage to the spinal disks and cord can immobilize the victim from the point of the injury and beneath it.

Why are spinal fractures common in car crashes?

Spinal fractures may happen in car crashes because of the way a seat belt works. Despite the safety tool’s ability to hold you in the seat, it cannot keep the entire body in one place. The lower body does tend to stay seated, but the upper body may get violently thrown from side to side or forward and back. The head and chest are more likely to experience this jolting action, which exposes the spine to extreme forces in those regions.

The force of a crash can generate spinal fractures, which may result in numbness, pain, paralysis, incontinence and other adverse consequences. In severe cases, fractures must be treated with surgery. Many moderate or minor injuries recover with immobilization and few, if any, permanent damage.

If your spine does not feel right after a crash, e.g., if it feels numb or you experience weakness, call 911. Remain where you are and don’t move until the emergency team is there to assist you. After your injuries are diagnosed and you are stabilized, you can then take steps to initiate a claim against the at-fault driver whose negligence led to your being injured.