Yes, it’s possible to recover from a chest injury you sustained in a motorcycle accident. The treatment you need will vary depending on the severity of your injuries.
Our Phoenix motorcycle accident lawyers at Zanes Law explain the common chest injuries from motorcycle accidents and how you can recover. Read on to learn more about the recovery process after you suffer a chest injury.
Common Chest Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
The chest is a fragile place as it holds important organs such as your heart and lungs. Here are some of the most common chest injuries you can sustain in a motorcycle accident:
Rib fractures are very common in motorcycle accidents where the chest strikes another hard object. The force of impact can cause one or more ribs to crack or break. It is not uncommon for multiple ribs on one or both sides of the chest to fracture simultaneously.
Broken ribs often cause sharp, localized pain that worsens with breathing, coughing, sneezing, or any movement of the chest. Since the ribs help protect the lungs, punctures can occur from fractured ends if breaks are severe enough.
Proper diagnosis involves chest X-rays to identify the specific ribs injured and guide treatment. Pain management may involve prescription pain relievers, breathing exercises, and bracing, depending on the number and locations of fractures.
A pneumothorax refers to a collapse of the lung when air enters the space between the lung and the chest wall. When ribs fracture, or the chest wall is severely bruised, it allows air to leak into where it does not belong.
This blocks the lung from fully inflating, causing shortness of breath and chest pain that increases with breathing efforts. Other symptoms may include cough, rapid breathing, restlessness, and pale or bluish skin around the mouth. Immediate medical evaluation is essential so a chest tube can be inserted to re-expand the lung and prevent prolonged oxygen deprivation.
Pulmonary contusions, often called “bruised lungs,” occur when the force of impact directly injures lung tissue itself. Even though the lung remains inside the chest cavity, blood may accumulate in the lung tissues where small capillaries are damaged.
This makes breathing painful and limits oxygen entering the bloodstream. Symptoms include sharp chest pain, coughing up blood or pink frothy sputum, and worsening shortness of breath. Contusions hamper the lungs’ ability to effectively exchange gasses until healing is complete, so close monitoring by doctors is important.
Flail Chest Injury
A serious chest trauma, a flail chest, results when multiple consecutive ribs are fractured in more than one place, detaching a segment of the chest wall. This loose section moves in the opposite direction of a person’s normal breathing, causing severe pain and making respiration difficult or inadequate.
Other signs incorporate paradoxical chest wall movement, swelling, bruising, and respiratory distress. The condition requires prompt emergency stabilization, pain management, and possibly a ventilator to assist breathing until the chest heals properly. As with all major chest injuries, prevention of lung complications like pneumonia is also a priority.
Though not common in motorcycle accidents, direct trauma to the chest severe enough to fracture the sternum or spine occasionally leads to injuries to the heart itself. The heart can bruise, rupture, or have a rupture of its surrounding protective sac.
Symptoms include chest pain, trouble breathing, fainting, and cardiac arrest in emergent cases. Early EKG monitoring and cardiac enzyme testing help diagnose heart-related problems, which may require procedures such as drainage of blood from the sac around the heart. Survivors need close cardiac follow-up care to monitor for complications.
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Common Treatments for Motorcycle Accident Chest Injuries
Proper first aid is necessary for any chest trauma. Medical responders will quickly assess breathing and provide oxygen if needed. Rib fractures are typically treated with over-the-counter pain relievers and breathing exercises.
Application of an elastic chest binder or taping can help stabilize the chest wall during healing. Surgical fixation may be required if multiple rib fractures are significantly displaced. Plates or wires are installed during thoracic surgery to hold pieces in proper alignment while mending. For a flail chest, the detached segment is commonly repaired by inserting metal rods between fractured ribs wired or plated to the sternum or vertebrae.
This immobilizes the unstable section and lets the lung reinflate. Rehabilitation is also important and commences once the acute injury phase passes. Breathing exercises prevent atelectasis and pneumonia, and chest and arm stretching aids mobility.
As your endurance builds, physical therapy may include pelvic tilts, core work, posture drills, and, eventually, cardiovascular training. The goal is a full recovery, allowing a return to daily activities without lingering pain or disability. Supplemental bracing or muscle-building may still be needed in some cases with osteoporosis or chronic inflammation.
Factors Affecting Your Recovery Timeline
Every chest injury will take a different amount of time to heal. Still, there are a few factors that apply to every type of chest injury recovery. If you’ve sustained a chest injury, these factors affect how long it takes for you to recover:
- The severity of the fracture injuries: More extensive fracture involvement of multiple rib lung contusions will lengthen recovery compared to minor single rib breaks.
- Age: Younger people tend to heal faster due to more resilient bones and tissues compared to older adults.
- Overall health fitness: Those with pre-existing cardiac pulmonary conditions may take longer to recover fully. Unfit individuals also heal more slowly.
- Smoking status: Smokers are more prone to respiratory complications that can slow the healing of lung chest wounds.
- Treatment: Proper medical surgical care like chest tube insertion, ventilator use if needed, adherence to post-op care, and physical therapy can aid recovery.
- Lifestyle: Recovery may be extended if activities involve physical labor straining or you aren’t getting the proper amount of rest.
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How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help You Recover from Your Injuries
While our team of motorcycle accident lawyers in Phoenix at Zanes Law can’t help you physically, we can take on legal tasks so you can relax and heal from your pain. One of the most helpful things we can do is assess the damages you’ve suffered. We can help you recover damages such as:
- Loss of income
- Property damage
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of household services
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
We can also help you negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Approaching an insurance company that’s likely going to devalue your claim is intimidating. We can accompany you and protect your rights to compensation by showing the insurance claims adjuster evidence that the other party is at fault for your injuries.
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Learn More About Recovering from Motorcycle Accident Chest Injuries
At Zanes Law, our team of Phoenix motorcycle accident lawyers can help you with various aspects of your case. We can give you a free case evaluation and answer any questions you have about recovering from a motorcycle accident or chest injury.
Contact us today to get justice and help with your chest injury recovery.