Brad Pistotnik Law
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What Types of Arm Injury Can Occur in a Motor Vehicle Crash?

What Types of Arm Injury Can Occur in a Motor Vehicle Crash?

What types of arm injury can occur in a motor vehicle crash? How long does it take to recover, and what factors influence the recovery period? Arm injuries are common in motor vehicle accidents. The humerus, radius, ulna, or olecranon can fracture when crushed between the steering column and door, or suffer fractures while bracing for impact. The type of fracture influences recovery, whether or not amputation occurred, the individual's overall health, and the treatments administered.

Types of Fractures in an Automobile Accident

  • Humerus Fracture - When a motor vehicle accident occurs, it is common to extend the arms to brace the individual for the impact. For example, holding the steering wheel tightly or placing hands on the dash. When this happens, the humerus absorbs the force of impact, which causes the arm injury. The impact can cause a proximal humerus fracture, mid-shaft humerus fracture, or distal humerus fracture. Humerus fractures are common, and in 2008, nearly 370,000 emergency room visits involved the treatment of humerus fractures. Of these, approximately 50% were proximal humerus fractures. By 2030, it's estimated that nearly 490,000 emergency room visits will involve humerus fractures. Treatment of these fractures requires immobilizing the arm and may require surgery, followed by physical therapy to restore the range of motion. These types of fractures typically heal within four to six weeks, which can be longer if surgical intervention is required.
  • Radius/Ulna Fracture - As with humerus fractures, most radius/ulna fractures occur when the individual braces for impact. However, these bones are significantly weaker than the humerus, which means this often results in compound fractures. In the United States, it is estimated that there are nearly 650,000 radius fractures each year. Stable, simple fractures can be treated with casts and will usually heal within four to six weeks. However, most radius/ulna fractures require surgical intervention. When surgery is required, an individual's ability to lift and perform basic tasks will be severely limited for at least six weeks post-surgery.
  • Olecranon Fracture - The olecranon is the bony protrusion of the elbow. It can suffer direct trauma when it impacts the door or other hard objects in the vehicle. Most olecranon fractures are treated with casts or splints. However, if the elbow is displaced or an open fracture, then surgical insertion of wires, screws, or plates may be necessary. Most olecranon fractures will heal within four to six weeks.

Recovery Following an Arm Injury

There are many factors that influence recovery following an arm injury. These include the type of injury and whether it is a simple or compound fracture. Simple fractures, or "clean breaks," will typically heal faster. The individual's health at the time of injury is also a significant factor. Younger accident survivors with healthy immune systems will heal faster than an elderly survivor with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, or another underlying condition such as diabetes. If limb amputation occurs, the recovery period is significantly longer and requires considerably more surgical and therapeutic care.

Other factors that influence healing and recovery following an arm injury are the degree of immobilization, hormones, whether bone was removed during surgery, etc. In most cases, the individual will experience a significantly reduced range of motion and strict limitations on lifting until the arm injury heals.

Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. Brad Pistotnik represents motorists who suffer an arm injury in motor vehicle accidents in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.