When an accident is serious enough to break or fracture the strongest structures in our body, it is a good sign that the accident involved some extraordinarily high forces. When bones fracture, immediate medical attention is needed, and the recovery process for victims can be long and arduous.
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How Bones Fracture in Accidents
Of course, bones break in many types of accidents, including sports or work accidents. Bones can also be made more brittle by age or illness.
There are many ways that bones can fracture in a car accident. Some examples are:
- Ribs can be broken when the chest area is thrust against a steering wheel, or against a deploying airbag. They can also be broken in a fall. Broken ribs themselves will eventually heal, however, when ribs fracture, they can then pierce surrounding organs. A common example is the lungs, which are often punctured by fractured ribs, leading to pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung.
- Arms and wrists can be broken when people naturally extend them to try to avoid colliding with the interior of the vehicle, or when they are extended to try to break the impact from a fall. The bones in the arms are not strong enough to stop the momentum of the body being pushed forward in an accident.
- Leg bone fractures (including the femur, tibia and fibula bones) can occur when they too push forward in an attempt to brace the body or keep it from being thrust forward. Additionally, the legs are especially vulnerable to injuries that happen when the driver or passenger compartment is crushed, caving the interior of the vehicle into the leg bones. The lower appendages and hip bones are especially vulnerable when pedestrians are hit by oncoming cars.
- In serious rear-end collisions, the vertebrae in our backs can be fractured. These fractured discs, if serious enough, can move the vertebrae so much that they push against the spinal nerves.
- Of course, almost every part of the body is susceptible to injury when someone is ejected from a vehicle. The force of breaking through windows, and falling to the ground, can fracture any of these bones, as well as the hips, facial bones, or skull.
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Different Kinds of Fractures
Any time a bone fractures, it is a serious injury, and one that requires immediate medical attention. However, there are different kinds of fractures that the body sustains in an accident.
A partial fracture is the least serious of fractured bones. In a partial fracture, a crack develops that does not go all the way through the bone. A complete fracture is where the break has gone all the way through the bone. If the crack does go all the way through the bone, doctors will next determine whether the fracture is displaced or non-displaced.
In a non-displaced bone fracture, the bone is cracked, but still intact, or at least, the bones still align with each other. With proper care, this kind of fracture will heal relatively well, and surgical treatment is rarely needed.
In a displaced fracture, the broken bone has not only fractured all the way through the bone, but one part of the bone has moved from the other side of the fractured bone. The bones no longer align with each other. These kinds of fractured bones may require surgery, but almost always will require stabilization of the break for a long time, to ensure that the bones heal in line with each other.
Sometimes a displaced fracture is so serious and has become so displaced, that the broken bone is jutting out through the skin. This is called an open (or compound) fracture and can involve serious damage to not just the bone, but to tissues, organs, the skin, or nerves.
Even when the bone does not break through the skin, a bone fracture can still be very serious. This is the case with comminuted fractures, which resemble a crush injury. The bone is crushed into many pieces; imagine a wooden stick being hit by a hammer. The stick would not only break but would have pieces of wood shorn off.
Like open fractures, comminuted fractures are very serious. Surgery may be required, as will the insertion of pins and a long period of recovery, especially for weight-bearing bones, such as those in the legs.
Symptoms and Recovery from Fractured Bones
People usually know that they have sustained a broken bone. If there are not visibly obvious signs, such as with an open fracture, the most immediate sign will be pain—although sometimes in the stress of the aftermath of an accident, the pain may not be immediately apparent.
The area of the fractured bone may be bruised, stiff, or feel warm to the touch. The area of the bone fracture may also look disfigured or out of alignment.
The body immediately reacts to bone fractures by sending blood to the area, which results in swelling. Blood vessels may actually grow in the area of the break. Just like on your skin when it is injured, your bone will form a callus to hold the broken bones (or the bones brought close together by surgery after the accident) together. The bone is stabilized with a cast or other immobilization device, to make sure the callous holds together.
Eventually, the body actually creates new bone in the area and remodels the bone to get it back to its original shape. This is when doctors usually recommend patients engage in more vigorous physical therapy, as the bone is now strong enough to bear weight, It can take many years before a bone gets to its original strength.
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When you sustain a serious fractured bone, your medical bills, lost wages, and medicines may cost a lot of money. Canada has a no-fault insurance system that can help you, but you also may be able to file a lawsuit against a driver that caused your accident and injuries. That lawsuit can provide additional benefits, above what insurance will pay. A good Ajax lawyer can help you determine if you can file a lawsuit, and will help you gather the evidence that you need to make your case.
The personal injury lawyers at Preszler Law Firm can help you if you sustain fractured bones or any type of injury in a car accident or other type of accident due to someone else’s negligence. Call us today to discuss your injuries and your accident.