Nerve Damage in a Motor Vehicle Accident


Among the various injuries that someone might sustain in a traumatic accident, nerve damage is often overlooked; however, nerve damage symptoms are usually permanent. 

These symptoms can become chronic and life-long complications.

What is Nerve Injury?

Nerve injury is often used to cast a wide net over a large swath of neurological issues. The nerves are the parts of the body that transmit signals from one location to another. These signals are all processed centrally by the brain. For example, when someone moves their leg while walking, this is done via a signal from the brain to the leg that is carried by a nerve. Furthermore, the ability to sense something as hot or cold is also carried by a nerve.

Damage to nerves is often a traumatic injury that can occur in any number of ways. Someone could slip and fall and bang their funny bone. Many people have felt this before, and this sensation is from an impact applied to the ulnar nerve. While this injury and sensation may be temporary, some cases of nerve damage could be permanent. For example, if someone suffers a bone fracture, a piece of this bone could break off entirely and sever a nerve. This is how chronic complications and symptoms of nerve damage develop.

The permanent loss of motor or sensory function can lead to a significant decrease in the quality of life of a patient. For this reason, some medical professionals published a case report that they recently saw damage to a patient's oculomotor nerve.

A Case Report: Oculomotor Nerve

A middle-aged individual was traveling down the road when they were involved in an auto accident. They struck their face on the dashboard and sustained a variety of minor facial fractures. The patient developed a blurry vision and was taken to the emergency room for further evaluation. 

The physician performed a physical exam which revealed that the patient was having trouble moving their right eye in specific directions. The patient's right pupil was having trouble reacting to light, and the patient was holding their head with a certain tilt to it. The patient was taken to radiology for further imaging. 

The next round of scans and tests revealed that the patient had sustained damage to their oculomotor nerve. This is one of several nerves that helps dilate and tells the pupil to move in certain directions. This can seriously impact a patient's vision and could become permanent.

Treatment of Nerve Damage

When a patient develops nerve damage, the first step is to see whether or not it is a motor or a sensory problem. If the issue is with a motor nerve, the patient could have problems moving their shoulder, arm, or other body parts. Issues with the sensory system manifest themselves as problems feeling certain things such as temperature, pressure, or pain.

This often happens if someone burns their fingers and later realizes that they cannot sense things as well as before. After this, tests will be done to test how well the nerves work. This could entail an MRI or a nerve conduction velocity scan. These will assess the physical damage to the nerve and the speed with which signals are sent down the nerve.

If the damage is diagnosed, it could be treated in different ways depending on the severity. Patients with chronic pain would require medication to help keep this pain at bay. Depending on how long ago the injury occurred and how severe it is, patients could be taken to surgery to get their nerve back together; however, this may not be successful if the injury was too long ago and the nerve has died.

In the TEDx Talks video below, Dr. Massimo Hilliard discusses recent research development on nerve repair. 

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer 

If you've been injured in an accident and suffered nerve damage, call our experienced Sacramento personal injury lawyers for free, friendly advice at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See our case history of verdicts and settlements and our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and Avvo.

Editor's Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 10.12.21]

Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay 

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