The life-altering effects of a broken neck

Technically, doctors call a broken neck a “cervical fracture,” because the seven bones in the neck are known as the cervical vertebrae. These bones support your head and keep it connected to your shoulders and torso. They can be broken in several ways, such as in motor vehicle crashes or slip-and-fall accidents. Athletes are at special risk of neck injury, such as in football, gymnastics and diving.

As with vertebrae further down the spine, cervical vertebrae protect the spinal cord. Cervical damage can injure or even sever the cord, causing permanent paralysis.

As the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains on its website, less severe cervical fractures, like a compression fracture, can be treated with a neck brace. The brace immobilizes the bone, to let it heal on its own. Victims whose cervical fracture is more complicated or severe may need to undergo surgery, or go through traction or a rigid cast for a few months.

Motorists and passengers can reduce their chances of a neck injury by wearing a seat belt in the car. But nothing can totally guarantee that a bad driver will not hit you someday and cause you serious harm. What victims can control is who pays for their injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you need to make yourself financially whole again.