Like most Americans, you probably drive your car every day. Unfortunately, while defensive driving and a bit of precaution can help reduce your odds of being in a serious car accident, many of us will experience it at least once.
After being in a car accident, some injuries are more common than others. For example, bone fractures and whiplash are some of the top culprits. But there are also some less common, unassuming injuries that are possible from a car accident. One example is loss of bladder control or incontinence. Women more commonly experience symptoms of incontinence after a car accident. In addition, the effects of a moderate to severe car crash could potentially cause life-long incontinence.
While bladder trauma is uncommon, it does happen and can be a life-altering condition. The bladder typically sits inside our pelvis, where our pelvic bones protect it. However, a car crash can cause your pelvic bone to break, causing injury to your bladder. Or if you receive blunt force trauma to the abdomen that could rupture your bladder. Damage to the spinal cord could also lead to bladder complications or incontinence.
A woman who has experienced bladder issues after a car accident may assume that they are side effects of childbirth. But that does not explain or account for many women who have never been pregnant or reared children that have experienced incontinence after a car accident.
Bladder incontinence can be embarrassing and painful. In addition, dealing with the inability to control bladder functions can interfere with daily life activities. Therefore, it’s essential to receive the best possible care and seek an experienced urologist who understands the potential effects of car accidents on the urinary system. After receiving the appropriate medical care, contact a Denver personal injury attorney right away.
Here we’ve put together an informational guide for anyone experiencing incontinence symptoms after a car accident and wanting to educate themselves on the topic.
Symptoms of Incontinence
Sometimes, after a car accident, the bladder and bowel signals can become compromised due to injuries. This is called a neurogenic bladder or neurogenic bowel. Some signs of a neurogenic bladder include:
- Loss of bladder control
- Inability to empty the bladder
- Urinary frequency issues
- Frequent UTIs
Signs of neurogenic bowel include:
- Irregular bowel frequency
- Not having bowel movements
What Part of the Spinal Cord Influences the Bladder and Bowel?
It’s also possible to sustain an injury to the spinal column that causes bladder trauma. Damage to the spinal column, like a break, pinch, or tear, can cause paralysis. One side effect of paralysis can be urinary incontinence.
The lowest part of the spinal cord is called the sacral spinal cord. The sacral spinal cord is responsible for controlling bladder functions, bladder and bowel external sphincters, sexual functions, and some leg muscles.
Sacral Voiding Center
Voiding, or using the bathroom, is also a function that involves the sacral spinal cord. The spinal cord has a section called the “sacral voiding micturition center” responsible for communicating with the bladder. For example, imagine the bladder becoming full of urine. The sacral voiding center would receive a signal that is relayed to the brain that it’s time to use the bathroom. Any damage to this communication process results in incontinence.
Brainstem Voiding Center
A sacral spinal cord injury can also affect the control of your bladder and bowel. This is because the brain stem sits between the brain and spinal cord. Similar to the sacral voiding center, the brainstem has its voiding center responsible for sending signals down to the body’s external sphincters. If a spinal cord injury interferes with brainstem voiding center signals, the sphincters may not relax. The result would be detrusor sphincter dyssynergia (DSD). DSD can lead to bladder complications and kidney damage if left untreated.
Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD) is another problem that can result from a spinal cord injury at or above thoracic level 6. AD causes a rise in blood pressure, and it’s common not to have any other symptoms. Anyone who has sustained injuries at or above the thoracic level should check their blood pressure when they have a full bladder or if they are voiding. Other common symptoms associated with AD include:
- Flushed skin
- Goosebumps or chills
- Slowed pulse rate
It’s evident that a range of problems with the bladder and or bowel is possible after a spinal cord injury. For more information on bladder/bowel problems or incontinence, you can refer to the National Association for Continence.
Treatment Options for Incontinence After a Car Accident
Fortunately for those facing bladder or bowel problems after a car accident, there are multiple options for treatment. First, your physician may refer you to a qualified specialist to prescribe you a unique treatment plan.
After experiencing bladder/bowel control issues, one method is to train your bowel when to have a movement. For example, a program could begin with a suppository or enema. Then, the patient would train their body to complete the action at a specific time every day. This repetitive schedule will condition the body to have a consistent schedule with persistence.
Non-invasive Treatment Options for Loss of Bowel Control
- Anal Irrigation – is a bowel management therapy that can help ease constipation and encourage bowel movements.
- Clean Intermittent Catheterisation (CIC) – method for draining urine via a catheter. CIC can help reduce bladder pressure and help drain residual urine to help preserve kidney health.
- Continuous Catheter Drainage – continuous drainage of urine with bladder catheterization.
Contact a Denver Car Accident Attorney
Studies have shown that car accidents account for 47% of spinal cord injuries. You are not alone if you have experienced incontinence after a car accident. We understand that bladder and bowel control issues can be embarrassing and frustrating.
Our experienced Denver car accident attorneys have dealt with cases similar to yours and recovered compensation for clients based on these symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with a spinal cord injury that led to incontinence, you may have a valuable claim. You are entitled to seek compensation for all the medical treatment you’ve undergone for your accident-related incontinence issues.
If you have been injured in a car accident, please do not wait longer to consult with a skilled Denver car accident attorney. We are happy to discuss your legal rights and your options for a claim. Contact us today for a free no-obligation initial consultation.