Crush Injuries Can Prove Very Challenging
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. A large percentage of my new clients suffer crush injuries caused by truck and auto collisions, general industrial accidents, serious falls, ceiling and building collapses, machine malfunctions, and transportation accidents. While many of these individuals fully heal from their injuries with prompt treatment and rehabilitation, others must undergo amputations and learn to adjust to one or more permanent disabilities.
If you or someone you love has suffered a crush injury, please reach out to me, Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney, Ed Smith, at 916.921.6400 for free, friendly advice.
What Exactly Is a Crush Injury?
Stated simply, this occurs when a part of a person’s body is severely compressed between one or more hard surfaces. Almost immediately, the person’s tissues in the affected areas are damaged by the severe loss of oxygen and blood flow. Over a period of hours, ischemia (a condition caused by inadequate blood flow to parts of the body) can set in, often causing damaged tissues to die.
Once crush injury patients are seen in an emergency room, they’re carefully checked for many of the following symptoms so that harmful complications can be prevented.
Crush Injury Symptoms That Often Appear
- Lacerations to various parts of the body
- Bone fractures
- Severe bleeding
- Vascular integrity issues
- Dizziness and nausea
If the patient’s injuries are moderate to severe, they often develop “compartment syndrome.” An individual “compartment” is a group of blood vessels, muscle tissues, and nerves in a person’s arms and legs that are surrounded by a large membrane called the fascia. Since this outer membrane, the fascia, cannot expand, when there’s swelling in the compartment, the various tissues, muscles and nerves within it can be seriously damaged.
Once all these injuries start to worsen, many patients’ supporting ligaments, neurovascular structures and covering soft tissues are damaged further.
The Development of “Crush Syndrome” Can Cause Further Harm
When crush injuries are moderate or severe, the damaged tissues and muscle fibers often produce byproducts like lactic acid and potassium that pour into the person’s bloodstream. Once these added chemicals are recognized, rhabdomyolysis (“crush syndrome”) can develop. If not carefully monitored and effectively treated, this syndrome can lead to renal (kidney) failure, heart arrhythmias – and even death.
Serious “Crush” Injuries Are Common Among Construction Workers
Employers must proactively offer safety training to all these employees since their chances of developing crush injuries are far higher than workers in many other industries. Being forced to try and survive after heavy steel beams fall on you and crush different body parts can be very painful and challenging. Some employees are also hurt when forklift operators and dump truck drivers drop heavy building materials while they’re trying to properly maneuver them.
Other workers must exercise extreme caution – always making sure machine guards are kept in place -- while they use power presses and other machines on construction sites. When the guards aren’t positioned for maximum safety, workers can easily lose fingers or hands due to power press crush injuries.
Although construction site managers and supervisors often rush their workers to complete all tasks quickly, it’s crucial for workers to be given adequate rest breaks so they can soon return to their demanding jobs with greater focus and energy.
After Accidents Occur, Timely Tests, Accurate Diagnoses and Treatment are Crucial
Unfortunately, construction work, car accidents and other common causes of crush injuries are a regular part of modern life. Therefore, when they do occur, it’s critical for the injured parties to be promptly seen in an emergency room.
Doctors exercise great caution when first examining these patients for they know that many of their worst injuries may be “hidden.” In fact, many crush injury patients arrive in a state of “shock” to some extent, especially when their injuries are severe. Once all vital signs have been taken, these patients are carefully examined for serious bone fractures, bleeding, swelling, and skin damage. Many of them are in serious pain, especially those who may need an immediate amputation.
After X-rays are run to determine the extent of any bone fractures, a CT (computed tomography) scan will be run to help indicate various soft-tissue injuries. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging test) is also frequently run on each patient. MRIs make it possible for doctors to evaluate various brain conditions as they check to see if the new injury has caused any inflammation or other complications. Of course, basic bloodwork is always done to check each patient’s electrolytes, calcium levels, and serum bicarbonate.
All this lab work helps doctors determine if there are any signs of rhabdomyolysis that can contribute to impaired kidney function. Physicians also examine each patient to determine if “compartment syndrome” has developed.
Choosing the Best Treatments Based on All Test Results and Ongoing Physical Exams
Although some patients who have sustained minor “crush” injuries only require simple wound care, others may need multiple treatments so they can restore the proper distribution of blood and oxygen throughout their bodies. Improved kidney function and stabilized heart rates help doctors determine when all non-crisis surgeries should be scheduled.
When patients are struggling with one or more bone fractures, an orthopedic surgeon is often called in to help. Different vascular repairs may also require immediate attention, especially when amputation of one or more body parts is being considered.
Many Crush Injury Patients Need Psychological Support as They Move Forward
The rehabilitation therapy needs of these patients can be extensive, especially if they’re having to adjust to the amputation of one or more body parts. As these individuals come to terms with their various physical losses, psychotherapy can prove crucial. In addition to coping with certain new mobility or dexterity issues, many patients are having to adjust to the fact that they may never again be able to do the same type of work they once did in the future.
Pain management issues must also be addressed. Patients will need help finding non-prescription ways to cope with pain since drug addiction is a common threat to crush injury survivors who are initially given many painkiller drugs. As patients continue all rehabilitative efforts to improve their health, good psychologists can help medical doctors motivate the injured to take proper care of themselves.
Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. If you or someone you love has been injured in a collision or other accident and need the help of an experienced attorney, please contact me right away at 916.921.6400 for compassionate, free and friendly advice. I can also be reached online through AutoAccident.com.
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