Phrenic Nerve Injury Following an Accident
Traumatic accidents can lead to penetrating injuries which can cause nerve injuries. One possible nerve injury that individuals could suffer in an auto accident is damage to the phrenic nerve.
The phrenic nerve is one of the most critical nerves in the body. This nerve arises from the top of the neck in between the C3 and the C5 vertebrae. It travels down the throat into the chest cavity. Once in the chest, it powers the lungs, the heart, and the diaphragm.
What are the Functions of the Phrenic Nerve?
The job of the phrenic nerve is to provide motor and sensory function to organs in the chest and abdomen. Some of the purposes of this nerve include:
- Each of the two nerves innervates the diaphragm on either side.
- The phrenic nerves play an essential role in the innervation of a protective sac around the heart, called the pericardium.
- The phrenic nerves play a role in digestion.
Like other parts of the body, the phrenic nerves are also prone to suffering severe injuries in traumatic accidents.
What are the Signs of a Phrenic Nerve Injury?
There is one diaphragm on each side of the body which rests below the lungs. The job of the diaphragms is to control the respiratory cycle, helping people breathe. Therefore, damage to the phrenic nerve could present with respiratory problems. Some of the symptoms include:
- Trouble breathing, particularly during exercise
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
- A rising heart rate
Someone who presents with these symptoms following a motor vehicle accident should see a doctor. They might have suffered a phrenic nerve injury.
Treatment of Phrenic Nerve Damage
If the phrenic nerve has been damaged, the diaphragm that is powered by that nerve could be paralyzed. When this happens, the diaphragm does not move properly. If the diaphragm doesn’t move, the lung will have trouble inflating, leading to breathing difficulties. Some of the treatment options include stimulation of the phrenic nerve to help it function normally.
In some situations, people might present with severe respiratory distress which requires intubation. Overall, the prognosis following a phrenic nerve injury is going to depend on the degree of diaphragm paralysis. Those who have suffered bilateral phrenic nerve injuries with diaphragm paralysis in both sides have a poor prognosis.
Watch YouTube Video: Phrenic Nerve Surgery for Diaphragm Paralysis: Greg’s Story – By: Hackensack Meridian Health
Contacting a Personal Injury Lawyer in California
When someone suffers a serious injury, such as nerve damage, in a traumatic accident, they are going to have questions about the recovery process. Some of these could include how much time they will miss from work, how it will impact the family financially, and how they are going to pay for their medical bills.
In these situations, families need to know that help is available from a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. Some of the resources that an attorney could provide include:
- Performing a detailed review of the records to make sure that all of the information has been considered appropriately.
- Helping families pursue damages related to the accident, any injuries, and their complications.
- Moving a case to trial when required.
Finally, everyone should know that they do not need to face this situation alone. An experienced accident attorney in Sacramento can provide help. You could be owed a sizeable financial award.
Sacramento, CA Personal Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. The phrenic nerve controls the body’s diaphragms and plays an essential role in the breathing process. If your family member has suffered from respiratory distress and breathing difficulties after a severe motor vehicle accident, please call (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly case advice.
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