You never expected to be someone who was involved in a serious crash, but nevertheless, it happened. You traveled to work like any other day, but when you entered an intersection close to your office, a driver turned in front of you and cut off your path of travel. Moments later, you found yourself waking up to the sound of a passerby banging on your window and trying to open your door. You hit your head, but otherwise were capable of getting out of your vehicle and waiting for help to arrive.
At the scene, you didn't want to go to the hospital. Other than a minor headache, you felt fine. However, you decided to go, anyway. There, you received the news that you had suffered a concussion and that you may see more injuries, such as serious bruising and back pain, develop over the next 24 to 48 hours. You're told to return if you are in too much pain or develop serious symptoms.
Delayed injuries: The reality of a crash
Delayed injuries are just a normal part of collisions. Drivers and passengers are thrown side to side and from front to back in a crash, stretching, tearing and manipulating their bodies suddenly. Any actual impact could lead to lacerations, bleeding, swelling and pain.
Since people are often scared or shocked at the time of an accident, it's normal to feel little in the way of pain. Even serious injuries may not have symptoms until hours after the accident when the adrenaline in the body begins to wear off. At that point, many patients find that they begin to notice additional pain and can pinpoint other injuries they did not notice immediately after the accident.
What are some common delayed symptoms?
Some common delayed symptoms include shoulder and neck pain, back pain, swelling of the abdomen, numbness in the arms or hands, post-traumatic stress disorder, and changes in personality or physical ability (this signifies a brain injury of some kind). Here's an example. If you're wearing a seat belt when you get into the crash, it holds you tightly to prevent you from being thrown. However, that force has to impact something. Your pelvic area may swell from the lap belt, and your chest may be in pain from the belt that crosses your chest. It's normal to see bruising or swelling in the shape of the belt because of the force it uses to restrain you.
Delayed injuries are a common part of crashes. Keep this in mind when you're in a collision, and make sure you get the medical care you need.