Thousands of people are injured in car accidents every year, yet despite this reality, most don’t know how to manage the most common injuries. While anyone can bandage cuts and scrapes, some of the injuries resulting from car accidents, such as whiplash, concussions, referred pain, and traumatic brain injuries require specialized, long-term care, both by medical professionals and at home.
Whiplash For Weeks
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents, but most people assume that it only takes a few days – maybe a week – to go away. In reality, though, whiplash, which is a collective way of describing injuries to the muscles and tendons in the neck caused by a sudden whipping motion, can take months to heal. The symptoms may not even appear for 24 to 48 hours after injury, at which point those with whiplash may experience neck stiffness, lost range of motion, and headache, among other complaints. Anyone with suspected whiplash should also be screened for concussion, like car accidents that are serious enough to cause whiplash also present a higher risk of head injury.
As for treating whiplash, the best thing you can do is rest for the first day or two and then reintroduce gentle movement. It can also help to apply heat or use a TENS unit to manage the resulting pain.
Back Pain Problems
Another common injury among those involved in car accidents is back pain, particularly lower back pain. This can stem from lumbar strains, disc injury, or spinal stenosis – a condition in which the spinal cord is compressed by the surrounding disc and vertebrae. Like whiplash, these injuries require ongoing care, but one thing you can do at home is practice meditation to reduce back pain. Simple mindfulness meditation can both distract from back pain, but also have an analgesic effect.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
While legal representation is vital after any car accident, one of the most common reasons that people consult a lawyer after an accident is because they’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury. This particular class of brain injury makes up 30% of injury deaths in the United States (though not all are caused by motor vehicle accidents), and brain injury deaths caused by motor vehicles are also the most common cause of emergency room visits among people ages 15 to 34. They represent a serious healthcare crisis and one with consequences that can last for the rest of the victims’ lives.
Researchers are developing systems that can predict what accidents will cause brain injuries, but the prediction isn’t treatment. Even those with what is considered “mild” traumatic brain injuries may require support from physical and occupational therapists for help with coordination and activities of daily living, from neuropsychology to speech-language pathologists. Those with more severe injuries, on the other hand, may require comprehensive rehabilitation and ongoing support. Many people with traumatic brain injuries suffer ongoing memory lapses and mood swings, among other complaints. There’s no surefire way of managing them.
Just like you should immediately call a lawyer after a car accident, you also need to get medical attention right away. This will help you get the treatment you need, prevent injuries from getting worse, and also bolster your legal standing. Many car accident injuries aren’t immediately evident, especially when you’re in a state of shock, so let the professionals look you over rather than rushing to get back to your ordinary life.