The sudden change in speed that occurs during a car crash can cause your head and neck to move quickly and in unnatural ways. This may result in you hitting your head on the sides of the vehicle, the headrest, the steering wheel, or the dashboard. The sudden change in speed may cause your head to whip back-and-forth or side-to-side. Your brain can bounce against the inside of your skull, resulting in a brain injury.
Some common symptoms of a brain injury include vomiting, loss of consciousness, dizziness, persistent headaches, sleepiness or fatigue, blurred vision, confusion, loss of memory, and difficulty concentrating. A sudden change in personality, such as feeling more irritable, aggressive, impulsive, or anxious, is also a sign of a brain injury.
As with the head, your spine – including your back and neck – can be jerked around violently in a car crash, which can result in a host of injuries. Soft tissue injuries can result from damage that is done to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This is commonly referred to as “whiplash” and can leave you feeling extremely sore for several days or even weeks.
You may also suffer herniated or bulging discs, which can cause severe pain. You may experience pain, numbness or tingling in various parts of your body – typically in your arms if you experienced a neck injury and down your legs if you experienced a lower back injury. While soft tissue injuries may heal with time and rest, many spine injuries require significant medical attention, including physical therapy, epidural injections, or surgery.
A car crash can be very emotionally traumatic. Dealing with the physical injuries that you and your loved ones sustained can be mentally draining and can result in anxiety, depression, and extreme fatigue. You may have to take time off of work to heal or relearn how to do certain tasks if you are left with permanent injuries.
Additionally, you may find that you have symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). PTSD symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks of the crash, avoidance of situations that remind you of the crash, heightened reactions, fear, anxiety, depression, agitation, irritability, hostility, and emotional detachment. Many people have found therapy to be a useful means of coping with the emotional toll of a car crash. Doctors may also prescribe medication to ease anxiety or depression.
Not all injuries are apparent immediately following a collision. Some people do not report any pain until several days later. Others report feeling only minor pain or discomfort even though they sustained significant injuries. The safest decision is always to seek medical treatment for your injuries by going to the emergency room, urgent care, or your family physician. This will allow medical professionals to provide treatment as necessary and to ensure that you did not sustain any serious, hidden injuries.