Car Accident
By Cynthia Kirkeby
May 29, 2004, 12:50


Topic: Car Accident

Class Brain Visitor:

My daughter broke 2 bones in her neck from a car accident, we were wondering how many bones you actually have in your neck.

Although she has a brace on we have been told that she will have no long term problems, although she is very worried that as soon as the brace comes off she will only need to move suddenly and she will be back to square one or unable to move.  Could you confirm that this will not be the case to put her mind at rest.

Thank you.

Class Brain Response:

There are 7 cervical vertebra (or spinal bones) in your neck. So your
daughter apparently broke 2 of the seven. There are a number of types of
"breaks" or fractures that can take place as you can see on this link.

Since your daughter was injured in a car accident, she probably sustained a
compression fracture, where the bone cracks from the force of the collision.
You'll have to discuss this with her doctor to be sure. From your brief
description, it doesn't sound as though she had surgery, so the fracture was
probably more of a crack that a "break."

She really doesn't have to worry about not being able to move if she moves
suddenly after the doctor tells her that she's healed and doesn't have to
wear the brace anymore. For her to be at risk in that way, she would have
to have a fracture that was a true break all the way through the bone. Then
the worry would be that she might displace the bone and damage the spinal
cord. If either of you have any further questions or fears, I would advise
you to sit down with her doctor for a moment and review her x-rays. Explain
her fears and ask the doctor to explain things "in simple non-medical terms"
that you can both understand.

I suffered through 3 compression fractures of my spine when I was younger.
It was very painful and scary so I can relate to your daughters concerns.
Rest assured that when the doctor says that she can take her brace off,
he/she will be sure that her cervical vertebra are properly healed and she
is no longer at risk for further injury. She'll have to be careful, as with
any injury to not re-injure herself. It takes a little while for the body
to make a full and complete recovery, but that usually means that you both
need to exercise a reasonable prudence about risky activities - such as not
playing team contact sports for awhile.

Once you injure your spine you find that you really value your body. Some
activities no longer seem reasonable, but you don't have to become a recluse
or stop exercising. On the contrary, it is very important for her to do good
back exercises once she's able to. If the muscles are toned and in shape
her spine will be kept in better shape as well. You can ask her doctor for
a list of exercises and he may recommend some time with a physical therapist
if you ask for one. They're great when it comes to figuring out how to
exercise again without injuring yourself.

I hope that this has helped. Remember to call the doctor to go over any
other concerns that you and your daughter have. That's their job. :)

Cynthia Kirkby
Class Brain

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