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Why car crashes are a leading cause of limb loss

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Amputations |

Car crashes involve heavy machinery with significant momentum. The human body can easily sustain major injuries in crashes despite the safety systems like restraints built into modern vehicles. Limb loss is one of the more severe injuries possible when cars collide. In a relatively small number of cases, the collision itself causes a traumatic amputation. Such scenarios often require immediate medical care and put someone at risk of both blood loss and infection.

Traumatic amputations at the scene of the crash are rare, and yet motor vehicle collisions are among the top causes of limb loss in the United States. What underlying factor contributes to the association between collisions and limb loss?

Amputation may be necessary after a traumatic injury

Many amputations caused by car crashes do not occur at the scene of the collision. Instead, they are part of someone’s treatment for severe injuries. Medical professionals sometimes determine that they must surgically remove a body part because of the extent of the damage to the tissue.

Crushing injuries, which can easily occur in collisions involving high speeds or larger vehicles, can be very difficult for medical professionals to treat. In some cases, surgical amputation is the best option. Otherwise, someone might need to undergo multiple different surgeries and extensive rehabilitation care to try to preserve damaged tissue. Even then, not all patients may be able to recover full functionality after a severe fracture or crushing injury.

Crushing injuries can break a bone into so many pieces that doctors may struggle to rebuild the bone. Even implanted support may be insufficient to ensure full healing. Crushing injuries can also cause extensive damage to the musculature and connective tissue. Full recovery from crushing injuries is often impossible. The nerve damage alone could cause extreme pain, making amputation a better option in some cases. Doctors can remove damaged tissue in a sterile environment, limiting the pain and secondary medical complications someone faces. While it may be the best treatment option, a surgical amputation can still be a life-altering event.

Limb loss after a car crash can lead to massive medical expenses. It can also affect someone’s earning potential. Due to the sheer costs associated with treatment and recovery, seeking compensation for those losses after a crash may require a lawsuit in addition to an insurance claim.