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Common Airbag Injuries and How We Treat Them

It is true that airbags save lives every day, however, they don’t come without risk and can often lead to secondary injury.

It is important to know what kinds of injuries can be caused by airbags so that you know what to look for after an accident and when to visit a chiropractor for treatment. Our team at Impact Medical Zephyrhills discusses.

How do Airbags Work?

Airbags are made from a light fabric and deploy from the panel on the passenger side of the dashboard or the steering wheel. While the driver’s airbag is about the size of a large beach ball when inflated, the passenger airbag is larger since it is farther away from the passenger. Some vehicles even have airbags located in vehicle doors that are deployed during a side impact crash.

When a car is in a crash, a crash sensor is used to deploy the airbags. This typically occurs in head-on or near head-on crashes at a speed above 10 mph. There are some cases where a crash sensor malfunctions, and the airbag deploys incorrectly or not at all.

If an airbag deploys even a fraction of a second too late, it could lead to serious injury.

Common Airbag Injuries

Many parts of the body are exposed to an airbag during a collision, making secondary injuries more common.

Here are some of the most common airbag injuries that patients see us for:

Face Injuries

Because of the position of airbags, your face is the easiest target for injury during an accident. Though the airbag prevents your face from coming in contact with the windshield, the force of the airbag can strike your eye or even fracture the small fragile bones in your face.

Eye damage, including temporary and permanent blindness, is also possible. A concussion can also occur if the impact is strong enough.

Chest Injuries

Airbags deploy fast and hard, preventing your body from being thrown from the car. But if an airbag collides with your moving body, your chest may be vulnerable to injury.

Broken bones in the chest or damage to soft tissues and muscles in the chest are not uncommon.

Neck & Back Injuries

Your spine is quite vulnerable during an accident. While your body may be prevented from being thrust forward because of an airbag, you can suffer whiplash or other soft tissue injuries to the cervical spine due to an airbag. 


The speed of an airbag when deployed can often cause surface burns and abrasions on the face and arms. Think about it, the fabric from the airbag is coming in contact with your skin forcefully, so you may suffer something like a rug burn.

Also, the chemicals that are released during deployment can irritate your airways and cause asthma attacks. You may also experience airbag dermatitis.

Internal Injuries

Pressure on the abdomen can cause lacerations and bruises on the organs including the lungs, heart, liver, and spleen. Internal bleeding is also a possibility.

Treating Airbag Injuries

Depending on your injuries, chiropractic care can be greatly beneficial for recovery after a car accident and subsequent airbag injury. Our team at Impact Medical Zephyrhills may be able to treat pain in your arms, shoulders, and back.

But first, before we can treat you, we must accurately diagnose the injury. In some cases, chiropractic care might not be suitable due to inflammation.

Let’s say you have a shoulder injury due to the airbag’s force during your accident. We recommend resting your shoulder to allow the acute inflammation to subside.

Ice packs and heat pads can help reduce inflammation. Use ice first but ask your chiropractor before using heat on any of your injuries.

Visiting a chiropractor can:

  • Reduce the amount of scar tissue
  • Restore range of motion
  • Reduce long-term pain
  • Relieve pain without drugs

Preventing Air Bag Injuries

To prevent injuries, your seat should be at least 10 inches from where the airbag deploys. However, some injuries are unavoidable due to the airbag protecting you from more severe injury.

Remember, airbags are designed to work in conjunction with seat belts, and children under the age of 13 should always sit in the back of a vehicle.

Exceptional After-Accident Care

Just like other injuries sustained in a car accident, injuries caused by airbags require expert care. At Impact Medical Zephyrhills our chiropractors can create a comprehensive care plan to relieve pain and restore your mobility after an accident so you can start your journey to healing.

If you have been in an accident where airbags were deployed, contact Impact Medical Zephyrhills for a consultation today; (813) 706-5156!