Rear-end collisions are the most common type of vehicle crash, and in many instances, the victims are not seriously injured.
However, depending on the speed of the crash and the angle of the force during impact, a rear-end collision could cause severe injuries including spinal cord damage.
The spinal cord consists of a group of nerves that carry impulses from the brain to other parts of the body. Trauma, such as that caused by the impact of a vehicle collision, is the major cause of spinal cord injury (SCI). There are two types of SCI: complete and incomplete. In a complete SCI, the victim will have no feeling below the site of the injury. With an incomplete SCI, however, some functioning will still remain below the injury location.
Neck injuries are common in rear-end collisions. A neck or cervical fracture involves broken vertebrae, which, in turn, can result in spinal instability. Symptoms of a severe injury are not always apparent at the time of a vehicle collision, since, upon impact, the body releases adrenalin, which can mask pain and injury temporarily. Symptoms of SCI include the inability to feel heat or cold, muscle spasms, intense stinging sensation, digestive problems and breathing difficulties in addition to possible loss of mobility.
A look ahead
Prompt medical attention is essential even after what appears to be a minor rear-end collision. A CT scan and other types of x-rays can confirm a spinal cord injury, if present, as well as the location and extent of the damage. At this time, doctors cannot reverse SCI, but there are several effective treatment options that assist patients in returning to an active life. The victim of a rear-end collision can expect compensation to cover current and future medical expenses, lost wages and more.