If you drive a late-model vehicle, your car, truck or SUV undoubtedly has thousands of important safety features. Perhaps the most beneficial of these, though, are its seat belts. After all, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt usage during car accidents reduces injury risk by 60% for those in the front seat.
Seat belt syndrome is the collective name for a host of injuries your car’s seat belt might cause. Often, those with the syndrome have belt-shaped bruises across their midsections. While superficial bruising is usually not much of a concern, other injuries might be medical emergencies.
When your seat belt stops your forward motion, it puts a great deal of pressure on your torso. This pressure can cause arteries, veins and blood vessels to rupture. If that happens, you might suffer from internal bleeding, which is likely to require immediate medical treatment. The same might be true if you have an injury to your spleen.
Your torso houses most of your vital organs, including your lungs, stomach, kidneys and liver. Because of their location, your organs are vulnerable to damage from seat belt injuries. Organ damage can put your life in danger, of course, so you should get to the emergency room as quickly as possible.
It is not uncommon for seat belts to break clavicles, ribs and even pelvises. If you have acute pain in your midsection after a car accident, you might be suffering from broken bones. To heal properly, these are likely to require prompt medical care.
Ultimately, because you might not be able to distinguish between minor seat belt syndrome and something catastrophic, it is advisable to go to the hospital after an accident for a complete workup.