Certain types of injuries can lead to long-term consequences. An example is when the child suffers damage to the joints. In a child, this may result in a growth plate injury.
Overview of a Growth Plate
Each long bone in a child’s arms and legs has a growth plate on both ends. Once a child is done growing, these plates close and form a solid bone. Until then, they are a weak part of the child’s body and are thus susceptible to injuries.
Growth plates determine what the final shape and length of the bones will be once the child has stopped growing. So when the child suffers an injury to a growth plate, it can have a significant impact.
Child Growth Plate Injuries That Can Occur in an Accident
Trauma from an accident can cause injury to the growth plate. Although a minor injury may result in nothing more than a bruise, the growth plate may also be fractured. It’s critical that a child is evaluated after an accident because a delay in treatment or a failure to receive the appropriate care could cause permanent damage.
The following are types of growth plate injuries that children may sustain, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS):
- Type I: Fracture through the growth plate, which has the best chance of recovery.
- Type II: Fracture through growth plate and metaphysis (shaft of long bone), which is most common and also likely to heal.
- Type III: Fracture through growth plate and epiphysis (end of the bone) and usually requires surgery.
- Type IV: Fracture through growth plate, metaphysis and epiphysis, with prognosis being much poorer.
- Type V: Compression fracture through growth plate, which crushes the end of the bone and also has a poor prognosis.
There usually aren’t clear-cut symptoms that would specifically indicate a growth plate injury. One exception would be if there is a visible malformation in the arms or legs. But if the child is having difficulty moving the limb or there is severe, persistent pain, it would require a trip to the doctor.
Of course, children should always visit the doctor after being in an accident, even if they do not appear or feel injured.
Detecting this type of injury isn’t easy; since the bone hasn’t formed yet, the fracture may be more difficult to see on an x-ray. A doctor may compare one limb to another to look for gaps to indicate an injury.
Sometimes an evaluation and diagnosis can be helped by a(n):
- Ultrasound; or
- CT scan.
Treatment of a Growth Plate Injury
Most growth plate injuries are treated with a cast or splint. Sometimes a doctor will have to manipulate the bone and other structures back into place or perform surgery. In a more serious injury, physical therapy will likely follow.
The impact this type of injury could have on an accident claim depends on the severity. If it’s substantial, the bones could fail to grow or become misshapen. These visible defects could have a significant impact on the child’s life.
As a result, the child may pursue a claim, upon turning 18, to pursue damages for these effects. However, parents may pursue a claim within three years of an auto accident to pursue compensation for medical expenses and other forms of economic damages.
Talk to D.J. Banovitz about your legal options and the timeframe within which you and your child have to file for damages. Call 303-300-5060 to set up your appointment today. Also check out this article to learn more about growth plate injuries.