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What are crush injuries and what happens if you suffer from one?

Crush injuries are one of the more serious types of workplace accidents an individual can be involved in. There are many ways this type of injury can occur. A building may collapse with workers in it, someone might get trampled in a stampede into or out of a building or open space or a worker may get pinned under or behind heavy machinery.

Any injury that compresses the limbs is considered to be a crush injury. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), 74 percent of all crush injuries affect the lower limbs. Another 9 percent impact the torso and 10 percent, the upper limbs.

Although it appears like crush injuries would only impact the area of the body that's compressed, that's far from the case. Crush injuries instead have systemic implications for an individual. The cause of these systemic failures is the breakdown.of muscle tissue. This leads damaged muscle to excrete both electrolytes and toxic muscle cell tissue into the bloodstream. During this process, tissues closest to the crushed area begin to die. Crush injuries can also cause hypotension, which can lead to kidney failure.

These injuries also may result in metabolic disorders. That often occurs when the body's muscles release an overabundance of calcium, lactic acid and potassium into the bloodstream. This can result in potentially fatal problems including cardiac arrhythmia or arrest.

Whether an individual suffering from a crush injury survives and recovers any function of their extremities depends greatly on how he or she is extracted and the treatment received immediately thereafter.

Medical literature suggests that it is critical for anyone who suffered a crush injury be given intravenous fluids before any attempt to release them is made. This can greatly impact the worker's ability to preserve the affected tissue or limb. It also decreases the chance of suffering significant vascular failure.

If you suffered a crush injury while on the job, a Modesto workers' compensation attorney is one source for advice about how to file a claim for compensation.

Source: American College of Emergency Physicians, "Crush injury and crush syndrome," accessed Oct. 06, 2017

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