Many Ouachita Parish residents likely never heard of internal decapitation, which is the common name for the medical term atlantooccipital dislocation. The fact is that, under the right circumstances, it is indeed possible to survive this very rare injury that happens in only 1% of all spinal injuries.
Any injury involving the word “decapitation” is quite serious. But this is yet another very serious injury that can result from an accident with a big rig or car. Read on to understand more about this condition.
What happens during internal decapitation?
Everyone has ligaments that connect their skulls to the first spinal vertebra (known as the “atlas”). If the neck is traumatically hyperextended backward – as is common in high-speed car wrecks – those ligaments can snap.
If that happens, the medulla oblongata portion of the brain stem can shut down. As that section of the brain controls both heartbeat and breathing, these patients can suffer instant fatalities.
Now, the good news
Immediate immobilization of the head, neck and spine by paramedics or other medical personnel can save the accident victim’s life. Using a neck brace can literally mean the difference between survival and death.
If the internal decapitation is treated correctly and swiftly, the patient may survive and even avoid paralysis. However, the recovery is both grueling and complex. It can involve multiple surgeries, fusions and bone grafts. There will also likely be a long rehabilitation period for the patient to regain as much mobility as possible.
What about the cost?
If all that sounds expensive to treat, it is. That’s why victims of car accidents caused by other at-fault drivers should protect their right to seek compensation for their injuries, medical bills, ambulance and helicopter ride costs, rehab and any medical care they will need in the future as a result of this injury.