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What is a flail chest injury and how does it occur?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2022 | Car Accidents, Personal Injury

No one expects to get into a serious car accident, but it can happen. Residents of New Jersey involved in a serious crash might be left reeling with an injury known as “flail chest.”

What is a flail chest injury?

A flail chest injury is a catastrophic injury that can occur when a person is involved in a serious car crash. Usually, it happens in a head-on collision when the driver’s chest makes harsh impact with the steering wheel or dashboard. Flail chest injuries result in the rib cage detaching from the chest wall due to multiple rib fractures.

Flail chest injuries come with serious symptoms, including the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Fear
  • Higher rate of respiration
  • Faster heart rate
  • Sensation of air moving under the chest wall

A flail chest injury causes serious pain when a person tries to breathe. The portion of the chest affected also moves in the opposite direction as the rest of the chest wall, which increases the victim’s pain. The injury is serious and requires immediate medical attention.

How is flail chest treated?

Flail chest injuries are serious and can put a person’s life in danger. However, if treated timely, a person with flail chest has a good prognosis and good chances of making a complete recovery. Treatment often includes the following:

  • Pain management using opioids.
  • Proper positioning and rotation to keep the patient stable with their lungs open.
  • Supplemental oxygen often with the use of a ventilator.

Many people who suffer from flail chest need physical therapy after their ribs have healed. This helps to prevent the lungs from collapsing and enables sufficient airflow.

Flail chest injuries often occur as a result of a serious car crash. If you suffered this injury due to someone else’s fault, you might want to hold them liable for your medical expenses and other damages.