Trauma is the leading cause of death in people aged 1 to 55 according to medical researchers. The Centers for Disease Control opined that unintentional trauma caused 130,557 deaths that occurred in the United States during 2013. Not only is trauma the leading cause of death in certain age groups, but trauma also is the primary contributing cause of hospitalization, morbidity, or general lack of good health, and disability. Among the various systems of the body, trauma to the chest, specifically blunt trauma rather penetrating trauma such as a stabbing or impalement, is responsible for a large number of trauma deaths.
Ribs, clavicles, sternum, lungs, chest cavity, chest wall, esophagus, heart, major blood vessels, and diaphragm comprise the human chest. A blunt force applied to a person’s body rarely causes damage to one anatomical component of the body, but canl cause damage to other parts as well.
People can suffer chest trauma in numerous situations. Perhaps the most common source of chest trauma is a car accident. Chest injuries commonly occur in auto accidents when the body is violently thrown against something that is harder than a human chest cavity. For example, a driver can suffer massive chest trauma when propelled against the steering wheel after colliding with another vehicle or some other object. Another familiar scenario that causes chest trauma is a pedestrian car accident. Chest injuries can occur when the vehicle strikes the body or can happen when the body hits the ground and comes to rest.
Doctors have a variety of methods to examine the accident victim to determine the nature and severity of the blunt force trauma to their chest. Doctors will use all or a combination of the following diagnostic and imaging techniques to assist diagnosis such as:
• Sonograms, and
Treatment of blunt traumatic injuries to the chest will depend upon the nature of the injuries from which the accident victim is suffering. Blunt force trauma applied to the chest frequently breaks the bones of the chest. Broken ribs are extremely painful and can make breathing uncomfortable, if not difficult. Lungs can also bruise, which makes breathing painful and difficult as well. Additionally, victims may suffer a broken sternum, which, according to medical resources, is rarely life-threatening on its own. However, a broken sternum can cause critical secondary problems if it damages the heart or the vessels near the heart.
Accident victims can suffer other injuries as well. For instance, a collapsed lung or pneumothorax happens when air escapes the lung or enters the chest cavity and applies pressure to the lung. The victim will experience significant difficulty breathing with a collapsed lung. This is a common injury after suffering blunt force trauma. Doctors will insert a chest tube into the lung to “re-inflate” the collapsed lung.
Blunt chest trauma can rupture or sheer blood vessels in the chest. Ruptured blood vessels can cause blood to collect in the lungs or the chest cavity. This condition, called hemothorax, can adversely affect breathing. Doctors must eliminate the pooled blood to restore breathing back to normal.
If you are a victim of blunt force trauma to the chest, then you should strongly consider seeking immediate medical attention. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you might feel banged up and shaken. However, once the adrenaline response wears off, you could experience significant pain and discomfort that might be the result of a severe chest injury.
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