What knee injuries can occur in an automobile accident? What are the long-term recovery prospects for a knee injury that requires therapy or surgery to heal? Knee injuries are common in automobile accidents and are the result of blunt force trauma that occurs when the knees impact the dash, steering wheel, seats, or doors of the vehicle. While most knee injuries will heal over time on their own or via the assistance of 6-8 week physical therapy sessions, there can be lasting effects that include persistent pain and loss of range of motion.
In 2016, more than 4.6 million people required medical treatment following automobile accidents and many of these involved knee fractures, twisted ligaments, dislocated knees, and ruptured tendons. The data shows a 7% increase in the total number of injuries sustained by motorists and passengers in automobile collisions. Drivers and front seat passengers are at greater risk of suffering a knee injury in an automobile accident, particularly head on collisions.
Sprains to the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate, medial collateral, or lateral ligaments can occur when the ligament is stretched or torn during a collision. Physicians assess these injuries by the degree of damage they cause to the ligament and pain they cause to the individual. A minor injury is a grade 1 sprain, while a complete tear is a grade 3 sprain. The more severe the sprain, the longer the recovery period and it can take up to a year following the accident to regain full use of the knee.
The patellar tendons can also rupture during a collision. This is one of the severe injuries and can cause permanent disability. Ruptured patellar tendons often require surgery to repair with prompt treatment having a significant impact on the long-term recovery prospects.
Dislocation of the knee is also possible and is among the most serious knee injury that can occur. Nationwide, approximately 20,000 knee dislocations occur each year following non-sports related accidents and many of these are caused by blunt force trauma suffered in car accidents. When the knee is dislocated, it may create the need to amputate the leg because the dislocation cuts off circulation to the lower leg and feet. Sometimes referred to as "dashboard knee" this injury occurs when the knee is subjected to a significant amount of force.
The knee may also fracture in an automobile accident. Fractures are classified as either stable, displaced, or comminuted. Patella fractures occur in about 1% of all skeletal injuries. These fractures can be caused by direct or indirect force and can require surgical repair to restore the individual's range of motion.
While most knee injuries heal within weeks and months following the injury, permanent damage can be done to the patella, ligaments, and tendons. As the individual ages, these injuries can return and may lead to the need for knee replacement. As of 2010, approximately 693,000 knee replacements were performed in the US. Following surgery, 90% of patients regain considerable range of motion and relief from the pain and discomfort a damaged knee causes.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents car accident survivors in Topeka, Liberal, Goodland, Olathe, Overland Park, and elsewhere in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois, and Missouri that have suffered knee injuries. We help clients recover compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, physical therapy, and other expenses that a knee injury can create.
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