The types of injuries sustained by a rider involved in an accident can be varied and are the severity influenced by impact speed & force, angle of collision: glancing or blunt force or penetrating trauma, the type & density of object or structure collided with…and also to a lesser degree the type of protective equipment worn.
As I’ve stated in previous articles, the protective equipment will reach a performance limit and its effectiveness rapidly reduces as impact speeds increase and collisions are made with more dense objects at more acute angles! Hence why the best protection will be given against abrasion when a rider is sliding along the surface and not bouncing or colliding with any object such as curbs or street furniture…this is regardless of the brand or cost of protective equipment.
When a rider sustains an injury, the recovery process starts immediately, however this is not assisted by medics or bystanders, but more the body itself will attempt to heal, isolate & purge and prepare for blocking of infection through our immune system. Of course, this may have minimal affect, especially with serious injuries, such as excessive bleeding, organ, nerve & tissue damage or even brain injuries, but nonetheless the process is starting.
As medics arrive and provide stabilising treatment and attempt to cease or reverse causes of injury, this healing process gathers pace through medical interventions, drug therapy and body immobilisation. The idea here is to prevent further injury, stop any deterioration & excessive blood loss if possible and reverse or push back the initial causes & affects and any post traumatic injury pressures on the body.
This process continues until the patient arrives at hospital, enters the emergency department and continues through with treatment, surgery – if appropriate!, & rehabilitation. Some injuries, of course are not survivable, either at the road side, en route to hospital…or even when admitted. Conversely, many injuries are not only survivable, but also are ever increasingly fully recoverable.
Injuries that are survivable, may require a long time to recover from…and this is many times overlooked or not appreciated by many. I say recovery in terms of survivability, however this does mean that all survivable injuries are ever fully recovered from both in terms of physical & psychological states.
Medical interventions may require amputation of limbs, tissue & skin repair which may leave scarring not only at the injury site but also on other parts of the body. Body function from either skeletal or nerve & muscle injury may be severely affected and possibly lead to mobility issues and disabilities. Internal organ damage and brain injuries may lead to body & brain function incapacities…all of which may be temporary or permanent.
We often think of motorcycle injuries in two ways…either they are not survivable or they can be recovered from quite quickly, however this recovery time is purely subjective and may be a lot longer than you might think. It can be influenced by the type & level of treatment given, how healthy the patent body is…and of course by the nature of the injury and how each body responds to treatment.
‘Simple’ bone fractures can take weeks to heal and return to normality, whereas nerve, ligament & tendon damage can take a lot longer…sometimes permanent impairment resulting. Any limb injury with severe bone fractures and tissue damage may take more than a year to heal to an acceptable degree if free of complications. Any internal organ damage may require surgery to repair, surgery to replace with a transplant in time, or may require years of treatment and therapy. Brain & spinal cord injuries may have temporary but also have permanent affects in terms of reduced function & mobility, incapacity and or paralysis.
Rehabilitation & physiotherapy may take many months to assist in recovery and added prosthetics may take considerable time also. Suffice to say, that any injury that severely impacts on body function may result in long recovery times, long temporary incapacities or permanent life changing conditions.
Over many years of responding to all sorts of traumatic injuries and some of the most severe coming from road traffic injuries…especially those involving motorcyclists, we have witnessed the full spectrum of injury and many times we are able to catch up with patients and hear their stories and how long their recovery process was and their continued health issues.
Sometimes we transport or respond to patients who were involved in motorcycle accidents who have sustained paralysing injuries, who have further emergency health issues. Either with: Diplegia (Upper limb paralysis), Paraplegia (Lower limb paralysis) or Quadriplegia or Tetraplegia (Upper & Lower limb paralysis)
There is nothing more sobering, even for us as members of the emergency services and air ambulance crews who routinely deal with traumatic injuries, to hear these accounts, meet ex patients or respond to patients living with the consequences of stabilised but unrecoverable injuries.
We as riders, should always be planning to avoid an accident, look at early hazard development and the hazard potential.
Avoidance is key because survivability & recovery is never guaranteed! Ride like you’ll never have an accident & never need to test the protective equipment. Wear protection just in case you do have an accident and hope it can protect somewhat.
Plan for the worst & hope for the best!