Millions of people are injured in car crashes every year in the United States, and for many of those people, the injuries they experience can cause symptoms that last for months and even years — sometimes for the rest of their lives. While not every car crash causes severe injuries, it’s important to have a medical evaluation after any type of auto accident — even one that seems relatively minor. That’s because many car crashes cause nerve damage and other subtle injuries that can be very difficult to detect. Some types of nerve damage can take days or even weeks to cause really noticeable symptoms. Without a medical evaluation, there’s no real way to tell whether or not your accident is associated with nerve damage and other long-lasting injuries and symptoms.
There are, however, several factors that can affect the severity of your accident and help determine if you’re more likely to sustain injuries. Knowing those factors can provide you with a little insight into the type of medical care you might wind up needing.
Factors affecting accident severity
First, let’s start off by understanding one very important concept: If you’ve had an accident in which none of these factors played a role, that does not mean you don’t need medical care and attention. You can still experience long-term, life-changing injuries and delayed symptoms, even in accidents where these factors don’t apply. So no matter what type of accident you’ve been in, scheduling a medical evaluation at Watson Chiropractic is still an important step in making sure you get the care you need, even for injuries that aren’t yet causing major symptoms.
Factor #1 - Seat belts
Wearing a seat belt isn’t just the law in Washington State — keeping your belt buckled can also substantially reduce your risk of sustaining serious injuries if you’re involved in a crash. In fact, the CDC says wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of serious injury by as much as 50 percent (and it can reduce the risk of death by 45 percent). Seat belts help prevent your body from making impact with other surfaces, and they also keep your body more stable during a crash.
Factor #2 - Impact location
Whether your vehicle is struck in the side, rear or front can also make a difference in how severe your injuries are, and it can also affect the type of injuries you’re more likely to sustain. Where you're sitting can also affect the injuries you sustain based on where the car is struck.
Factor #3 - Your body’s position
Whether you were facing forward or turned in your seat also affects the type of injury you’re more likely to sustain, and it can also have an affect on the severity of that injury. Strains associated with twisting or turning your body can make some injuries worse.
Factor #4 - Collision speed
High speeds are associated with more serious accidents and more serious injuries. However, even a low-speed impact can cause serious and debilitating injuries (and even death).
Factor #5 - Airbags
Airbags reduce impacts to your head, neck and chest, and they also help stabilize other areas of your body during a car crash. In head-on collisions, statistics show having airbags reduces the risk of death by 30 percent in front-seat passengers, and by more than 50 percent when seat belts are also being worn.
Factor #6 - Injuries to the head
If your accident involves a direct or even an indirect impact to the head and skull, your injuries are more likely to be severe. Concussions and other head injuries can have long-term and even life-threatening consequences, even if you think you "feel fine" after your accident.
Factor #7 - Injuries to the neck
Neck injuries include direct-impact injuries as well as indirect-impact injuries like whiplash, which can cause nerves to swell and tear. Whiplash symptoms may not become fully apparent for days or weeks after your accident.
Getting care for your injuries
At Watson Chiropractic, we use special techniques to evaluate accident injuries, helping identify every early symptom so you can get the care you need to avoid serious problems in the future. When it comes to your health, a little precaution goes a long way. If you’ve been in any type of motor vehicle accident, book an appointment online today.