Motorcyclists have far less protection compared to drivers and occupants in passenger vehicles. The massive impact of a traffic accident can especially cause bikers severe injuries to all parts of the body, including dangerous head and chest injuries. If you or a motorcyclist you love has suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, a motorcycle accident attorney can advise you on your legal options to recover compensation for your injuries. Until you have the opportunity, the following guide offers more information about injuries to the head and torso that you’ve possibly suffered or could sustain in a motorcycle crash.
What Does Blunt Impact Mean?
A blunt impact injury can occur in any type of motorcycle accident. These descriptive words refer to blunt force trauma or blunt trauma, which happens when a part of the body has direct contact with an object that causes injury. Blunt force traumas typically do not penetrate the body. In a motorcycle accident, the impact of the crash often occurs from the waist up, so blunt force traumas to the head and/or torso are common injury in motorcycle accidents.
The medical community categorizes blunt impact injuries as:
Blunt Impact Injuries to the Head and Torso
Blunt force traumas to the head include abrasions and lacerations to the scalp, fractures to the skull, brain contusions, and other dangerous traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Traffic crashes, including motorcycle accidents, are the second leading cause of death for those under age 25. Blunt impact head traumas not only lead to brain contusions but could also result in concussions and diffuse axonal injuries.
Brain contusions, however, are frequent with about one-third of all TBI patients suffering a cerebral contusion. They occur when blood pools on the brain. Concussions are a result of the rapid jolt of the impact that causes the brain to move back and forth inside the skull. The same impact can lead to a diffuse axonal injury that occurs when a twisting movement tears and stretches neurons in the brain.
When a biker experiences blunt force to their torso, medically referred to as the thoracic region of the spine, during a motorcycle crash, he or she faces damage to their chest and abdomen. Blunt impact injuries to the torso include internal contusions and lacerations that could lead to organ damage and failure. Sometimes blunt force also causes broken ribs that can lead to internal damage and bleeding.
Motorcyclists who experience blunt trauma to their torso are also at risk for dangerous chest wall injuries, pulmonary injuries, and cardiovascular injuries.
- Chest wall injuries include broken ribs, which is the most common major chest injury, broken breastbone, and flail chest when multiple broken ribs destabilize the chest wall.
- Pulmonary injuries include pulmonary contusions, which is bruised lung tissue, and traumatic asphyxia from reversed blood flow from the heart as a result of the impact of a crash. A hemothorax or pneumothorax, both of which could cause one or both lungs to collapse, might also occur as a result of blunt force to the torso. A pneumothorax is extra air in the space between the lungs and chest wall, and hemothorax occurs when blood collects in the same cavity.
- Cardiovascular injuries that can occur from blunt impact to the torso include pooling of blood within the membrane around your heart, called a pericardial tamponade, that forces extra compressions of the heart, heart contusions, heart concussion, heart rapture, and other blunt cardiac traumas. Blunt impact injuries to the torso can also tear the inside layers of an artery, referred to as a blunt aortic injury. Motorcycle accident victims who suffer a blunt aortic injury have a 10 percent chance of living through a crash.
Complications From Blunt Impact Injuries to the Head and Torso
Blunt force trauma injuries like those discussed above can lead to a wide range of long-term complications for motorcycle accident victims. About one in four patients who suffer concussions must cope with headaches, vertigo, lack of focus, depression, and other severe long-term issues such as the impact on motor function, cognition, speech, and language. Blunt force head traumas can also cause issues with the senses, including vision and hearing.
As previously mentioned, broken ribs are one of the most common aspects of a blunt impact injury to the torso. Fractured ribs are dangerous because they lead to internal bleeding, organ damage, and other internal damage. Internal injuries, especially those left untreated, have a much higher likelihood of fatality. Additionally, permanent damage to the lungs or heart sometimes requires multiple surgeries, and patients are left with lifelong complications that require ongoing treatment, sometimes just to keep them alive.
Treating Blunt Impact Injuries to the Head and Torso
Bikers who suffer blunt force impact to the head and/or torso in a motorcycle accident need to seek immediate medical treatment. Head trauma can lead to permanent brain damage, which cannot be reversed. The longer one goes without attention to a head injury, the more chance they have for increased damage. Healing and recovery will look different for each head trauma patient based on the location of the injury and its severity.
Examples of therapies that patients sometimes need for rehabilitation include:
- Physical therapy to regain lost muscle function and range of motion after injuries
- Occupational therapy to learn new ways of doing routine tasks after a permanent injury
- Speech and language therapy to work on lost motor and cognitive functions related to communication
- Behavioral therapy to cope with the psychological impact of suffering severe motorcycle accident injuries
Blunt impact injuries to the chest and abdomen are often life-threatening. Immediate treatment focuses on life-saving activities, which often include surgery, chest physiotherapy, and respiratory care. When treating chest injuries, doctors are especially careful to immobilize the ribs if an accident victim has suffered rib fractures. Not only are broken ribs painful, but left untreated, they can cause further damage to organs and even lead to internal hemorrhaging.
For more information regarding your motorcycle concerns you can reach out to one of our law practices and speak to a seasoned motorcycle accident attorney. You can also refer to some of our other motorcycle related blogs that discuss: