It is human instinct to examine yourself for signs of an injury right after a car crash. You will likely check the other people in your vehicle as well. Some injuries are impossible to ignore at the scene of a crash. A broken arm might render someone unable to pull themselves out of the vehicle, for example.
Other injuries are easier to overlook following a motor vehicle collision. The human body’s chemical response to the threat of the collision will include flooding you with chemicals that dull your sense of pain. When you combine those chemicals with delayed-onset symptoms, you may not realize until well after the wreck that you have an injury that requires medical attention.
What kinds of health issues might you overlook at the scene of a crash? Here are three:
1. A traumatic brain injury
If you hit your head on the steering wheel or the windshield, the blunt force trauma could cause bleeding or inflammation inside your skull. A vehicle that flips or spins can cause your brain to move violently inside your skull, possibly resulting in brain injuries.
It can take several days of ongoing swelling or bleeding before there are noticeable symptoms. The signs of a brain injury range from changes in personality and worsening headaches to nausea, fatigue and blurry vision. If left untreated, brain injuries can worsen.
2. Internal bleeding
Your skull isn’t the only place where you could bleed without realizing it. Your chest and abdomen are also vulnerable to internal injuries in a car crash scenario. You could develop seat belt syndrome from the vehicle restraints digging into your stomach, for example. That may lead to intestinal bleeding that could prove life-threatening if not treated.
3. Stable fractures
Did you know that some broken bones can bear weight initially after the fracture occurs? Sometimes the force of the break is so powerful that it pulls the pieces of the bone out of alignment. Other times, the bone remains roughly in the position it was before the break. It may only be days later after heavy exertion that the stable fracture starts to get painful or prevent someone from going about their daily business.
The higher the speed of the vehicles at the time of the crash, the more likely it is that you could have an invisible injury.
For most people, seeing a doctor after a serious car wreck is an important step that will rule out severe injuries and help them get insurance benefits if they do have a noteworthy but invisible injury. Understanding the possible risks to your health after a car crash can help you take the right steps to protect yourself.