What really happens to your body in a motor vehicle accident?

Of course, in any kind of traumatic accident — even those in which a person emerges relatively unscathed — bumps and bruises are likely, along with muscle soreness and possible whiplash. But what other kinds of injuries are common to car accidents?

Even at relatively low speeds, injuries can be significant. One common malady is soreness of the small muscle groups around the spine. Usually, when the body has time to react to something coming at it — such as a baseball while playing catch — the muscles move in concert to do their job. In a motor vehicle accident, however, these muscles have to do their normal task in a split-second, which can lead to lingering soreness.

Internal injuries may not be readily apparent. When there is a blunt-force trauma to the chest, for example — such as against an airbag or a steering wheel — the bones in front of the heart compress and flex to protect it, then spread back out. They may become damaged in the process, sometimes becoming misaligned, which leads to a higher incidence of internal injury.

Source: Atlanta Magazine, “Walking away from a car crash,” Christine Van Dusen, Oct. 9, 2013