What Injuries Are Common After Motorcycle Accidents?

Traumatic Brain Injury

A Traumatic Brain Injury, often referred to as a TBI, is a very common type of injury after a motorcycle accident. Brain injuries can happen when the skull slams into a hard surface like the pavement or someone else’s car; even if the bones of the skull don’t fracture, the delicate tissues of the brain can get jostled around inside, causing a concussion or a more serious condition like bleeding inside the skull that can cause permanent brain damage or death if left untreated.

Brain injuries can also be caused by your head whipping back and forth rapidly on your neck (cause your brain to “slosh” inside your skull and slam against the hard bone) or by nearby blast waves.

Some brain injuries are diagnosed quickly in the emergency room. Others are harder for doctors to recognize; you may only notice that you have a concussion when you feel dizzy, confused, or have a hard time remembering things in the days or weeks after your accident. Brain injuries aren’t something you should try to diagnose or treat yourself. Always go to a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect that you have a brain injury.

Is it possible to get a TBI while wearing a helmet?

While wearing safety gear never hurts, it’s still possible to suffer from a traumatic brain injury even if you have a helmet on. Motorcycle helmets are designed to bear the brunt of the damage during an accident, but in severe accidents they may not be able to absorb all the force of slamming head-first into a hard surface.

Brain injuries can also happen even when your skull is not struck directly, if the forces of the accident were violent enough to whip your head around or if another part of your head, like your chin, strikes a hard surface.

Broken Bones

After a motorcycle accident, there’s a good chance that you’ll be evaluated in urgent care for potentially broken bones. In a traumatic accident, our bones can crack, split, or even shatter. In motorcycle accidents, broken bones and other internal injuries can happen not just from the impact of the car itself, but from flying and hitting the roadway or having your motorcycle land on top of you.

While bones can repair themselves over time (with some help from the medical profession), a broken bone can leave patients with long-term consequences. You may end up with temporary or permanent pins, rods, and screws embedded in your body; you may need surgeries to remove bone chips and reset shattered bones that cannot be re-aligned externally; your bones may fail to knit properly, or may grow back in an incorrect alignment. If your vertebrae, the bones that protect your delicate spinal column, are damaged, you may suffer from long-term pain or disability as bony defects deform your discs (the fluid-filled sacs that separate one vertebra from another) or press against your nerves.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Your soft tissues are your muscles, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, skin, fat, and other tissues that connect, support, and surround your bones and organs. While these tissues have some ability to heal themselves, after a severe motorcycle accident, chances are good that you will be dealing with some soft tissue injuries.

Injuries to the soft tissue can be harder to diagnose than bone breaks. You may feel pain, but can you pinpoint exactly where that pain is coming from? Is it damage to your muscle fiber, your tendon, or perhaps the nerve that runs through that area? Sometimes pain can be referred: you may feel pain in one area of your body because of tension or damage in another area.

     In many cases, doctors won’t be able to give you a scan to immediately diagnose a soft tissue injury. If you’re feeling persistent pain, keep a journal of your symptoms, check in with your primary care provider regularly, and don’t minimize or exaggerate your symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to a massage therapist, a physical therapist, or another health care provider who can help you manage your symptoms and recover your strength after an accident.

Even if it is annoying or difficult to do so, it is generally best to follow your doctor’s instructions when you’re recovering from a soft tissue injury. From a legal standpoint, juries may become suspicious of your reported injuries if you do not follow your doctor’s instructions or if you repeatedly skip appointments.

Neurological Injuries

Your nervous system is a delicate web of cells that transmit sensations from an area of your body to your brain. When these nerves are damaged in a traumatic accident, you will probably experience pain or other discomfort, like tingling, numbness, or weakness in the affected area. Your central nervous system includes your brain and spinal cord; your peripheral nervous system is all the nerve cells that control all your movements and transmit sensory information to your brain.

There are many different ways that your nerves may be damaged after an accident. In very severe cases, they may be severed. They may also be impinged when a traumatic injury to part of your body, like your shoulder or the openings in your vertebrae where nerves exit the spinal column, causes a deformity that presses directly on your delicate nerve tissue.

Neurological injuries are difficult to self-diagnose. Because nerves carry pain from parts of your body to your brain, you may believe that something is wrong with your muscle or bone when a damaged or impinged nerve is actually the source of the pain. As you follow up with your doctor after the accident, make sure to mention any episodes of numbness, tingling, or weakness that could be a sign of a neurological injury.

Other Injuries

Tallying up all of the possible injuries after a motorcycle accident could fill this entire site. A few other types of injuries include:

  • Dental: Cracked teeth, damaged joints in the jaw
  • Internal: Bruising, bleeding, or crushing damage to your organs
  • Vascular: Damage to your veins and arteries
  • Mental: Post-traumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders, new phobias or aversions
  • Reproductive: Physical damage to the genitals, loss of ability to enjoy sex
  • Dermatological: Road rash, burns, scarring