Long Term Accident Injuries Overview
A surprising number of car crashes lead to long term accident injuries and permanent damage. This type of injury can affect every facet of a person’s life. From walking to being able to hold down a job, long term accident injuries can make it difficult to enjoy the same quality of life that existed before. However, with time, many are able to work through their disability and fashion a new, although different, life. This takes time and can come with an emotional, financial and physical cost. When the accident was caused by negligence, someone with long term accident injuries can recover the associated financial damages. Below, we will explore the types of residual or permanent injuries that occur.
We’ve come a long way in the treatment of burns. With cosmetic surgery, many people who faced physical alteration due to burns are able to recover. However, this does not come without high medical costs that insurance does not always pay.
- Contracture: The aftermath of a severe burn injury carries with it scarring and resultant contracture of the skin, both of which can affect the use of that body part. For instance, if a person’s hand was severely burned, the scars that form may cause the skin to contract. This pulls the skin together and limits movement. Sometimes, this can be treated with physiotherapy and laser treatment. However, many times, surgery is needed to release the contracture.
Scarring and Disfigurement
Scars are discolored and thickened areas of skin that occur after the skin cells die after a burn. The body uses collagen, a protein, to repair the skin. However, collagen produces scarring. Once the scar is formed, it is often necessary to use steroid injections to reduce the overall size of the scar. Laser treatment can reduce the hardness of the scar. Surgery is able to remove the scar tissue. With plastic surgery, the appearance of the scar can be changed.
Long term accident injuries related to scarring and disfigurement are often located in visible areas of the body. This includes the face, hands or neck. Even small scars in these areas can be a source of embarrassment. Severe disfigurement or scarring can result in social isolation. The individual may have problems making friends, keeping their marriage together or even enjoying recreational activities. They may also find it difficult to find and retain employment. The individual’s changed appearance can affect their self-esteem and cause severe psychological and emotional problems.
Spinal Cord Damage
A spinal cord injury damages the spinal cord itself, resulting in loss of function such as sensation and mobility. Car accidents are a frequent cause of spinal cord damage. Spinal cord damage can lead to varying levels of paralysis or weakness, depending on where the injury occurs. If the spinal cord is injured at the cervical (neck) level, there is a high probability the individual will be paralyzed from the neck down. If the injury occurs at a lower portion of the cord, paralysis will be less extensive. There are two types of spinal cord injury, complete and incomplete. In an incomplete injury, some degree of function remains. With a complete injury, no function remains.
Cervical level injury usually results in quadriplegia where the person cannot move their arms or legs. If the injury is above the fourth cervical (neck) vertebra, a ventilator will most likely be needed. An injury to C7-T1 will usually involve problems with dexterity of the hands. At T1 to T8, there is control over the hands but not the legs. There is, however, poor control of the trunk. At T9 to T12, trunk control and control of the abdominal muscles is intact. Sitting without assistance is possible. Injuries below this point affect the legs.
Incidence and Treatment
Many people have spinal cord injuries. In the United States, roughly 285,000 are living with damage to the spinal cord. Each year, there are 17,500 new cases. Males are affected more than females.
Treatment for spinal cord injuries is limited. There is an advantage to early treatment of the injury with steroids to lessen the degree of damage. With time, some people with spinal cord injury regain a measure of function.
Traumatic Brain Damage
Traumatic brain damage also has many levels of injury. For instance, a concussion is a low-level injury to the brain. It is caused by trauma. With a concussion, the individual may suffer headaches, nausea, vomiting, and loss of memory. With time, usually six months, the concussion heals. For some, symptoms persist for a longer period.
Other types of traumatic head injury such as a hematoma can cause serious symptoms and death. With this injury, the collection of blood presses on the brain, resulting in symptoms. Most of the time, the hematoma must be surgically removed. Finally, the injury to the brain may be so great that the person falls into a coma. For some, the person’s cognitive function never returns, and they are left in a vegetative state. Not everyone in a coma experiences the same level of damage.
The loss of a part of the body can be devastating. A limb can be lost due to the trauma of an accident or because of crush injuries to the appendage. This involves surgery to reconstruct what can be saved above the level of the amputation. An amputation is difficult on many levels. Not only has the person lost the functional aspects of the amputated limb, but it becomes difficult to perform the duties of ordinary life.
Prostheses are more advanced today and are being used to restore the lost function. However, these devices are expensive, and it takes time to learn how to use them properly. This is done through rehabilitative and occupational therapy. Overall, some people are unable to bridge the gap between what they were like before the accident. They may develop varying levels of psychological trauma such as depression.
Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento. If you suffered a long term injury due to someone’s negligence, you have the right to recover the financial damages this imposed on you. An experienced attorney can help with that by investigating the accident and your injury. After speaking with your physician and medical experts, the lawyer can determine the full extent of economic injuries you incurred and will face in the future. Call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 to obtain the compensation you will need.
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