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Motor Vehicle Accident: Contusion or Abrasion from a Seat Belt

Caution road sign for slippery road ahead

Seat belts can save lives in a serious car accident. But if your body was thrown forward against the seat belt, you may have a bruise (contusion) or scrape (abrasion) on your neck, chest, or belly (abdomen).

Your exam today doesn’t show any sign of internal injury. But because of the strong forces in a car accident, it is important that you watch for any new symptoms that might be a sign of hidden injury.

Home care

  • A car accident can be emotionally upsetting. Take time to rest and adjust to what has happened. Talking with others about your feelings can help you feel less anxious and afraid.

  • It’s normal for your muscles to feel sore and tight the day after the accident. But tell your doctor about any pain this is more serious.

  • You may use acetaminophen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your doctor before using this medicine.

  • Talk with your doctor before taking ibuprofen for pain. That’s because this medicine can make it more likely for you to bleed. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of head injuries.

Special note on concussions

If you had any symptoms of a concussion today, don’t return to sports or any activity that could result in another head injury.

These are symptoms of a concussion:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Confusion

  • Headache

  • Memory loss

  • Loss of consciousness

Wait until all of your symptoms are gone and your provider says it’s OK to resume your activity. A second head injury before fully recovering from the first one can lead to serious brain injury.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your doctor, or as directed.

If you had X-rays taken, they will be looked at by a radiologist. You will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Headache or vision problems

  • New pain in your neck, back, chest, or abdomen

  • Pain in your neck, back, chest, or abdomen that gets worse

  • Shortness of breath

  • Repeated vomiting, dizziness, or fainting

  • Swelling of your abdomen

  • Blood in your vomit, stool (red or black color), or urine (pink or red color)

  • Excessive drowsiness or unable to wake up as usual

  • Confusion or change in behavior or speech

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your health care provider 

 

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