Most people have never heard of a “degloving injury.” But this injury, which involves peeling a layer of skin and soft tissue from the body, can have serious side effects. These consequences can include infections, scars, and even amputation.
Because they are so common, it can be helpful to have some information about the effects of a degloving injury and the compensation you can seek if your injury is caused by another party. Read on to learn more.
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How Does a Degloving Injury Happen?
Your body has many different layers of tissue. Your limbs, for example, have bones at the center. Ligaments connect bones. Tendons connect muscles to bones.
Blood vessels run to the muscles to deliver nutrients, oxygen, and immune cells. These blood vessels also carry waste products away from the muscles.
Nerves connect the muscles to the brain. These nerves carry sensory signals from your body to your brain and send motor signals from your brain to your body.
A layer of fat insulates your body. Just over the fat layer is your skin. The skin protects your body from infection. It also helps you to regulate your body temperature. Nerve endings in the skin collect tactile information for the brain.
A degloving injury happens when the skin and at least some of the soft tissues under the skin get peeled from your body. In a typical degloving injury, the torn tissue remains attached to your body. However, the peeled layer exposes the tissue under the injury in the same way that removing a glove exposes your hand.
Forces that Can Cause a Degloving Injury
Degloving injuries typically involve a pulling or scraping force that peels or flays tissue.
A degloving injury is not the same as a laceration. You can suffer a laceration, even a serious one, without the skin and soft tissue peeling from the body. But a laceration in addition to a lateral force can cause the peeling characteristic of a degloving injury.
A degloving injury is also not the same as an abrasion. While abrasives can cause a degloving injury, a mild abrasion might only affect your skin.
A skinned knee, for example, is an abrasion but not a degloving injury. On the other hand, if the pavement peeled a flap of skin and flesh from your knee in a motorcycle accident, you have suffered both an abrasion and a degloving injury.
What are the Side Effects of a Degloving Injury?
When a layer of tissue gets peeled from the body, several effects can result, including:
One of the most common and dangerous effects of a degloving injury includes infection. An infection occurs when bacteria enter an open wound and multiply there.
An infection can cause tissue death. It can also spread through the bloodstream to cause sepsis.
When soft tissue gets peeled from the body, the blood vessels running to the torn flesh can get severed. As a result, replacing the flesh will not necessarily fix the injury. Instead, the flesh will die because it cannot receive nutrients and oxygen.
Nerves to the torn tissue can get severed. If doctors can reattach the layer of flesh, you may experience:
- Loss of dexterity
- Loss of sensitivity to temperature
Doctors can sometimes repair damaged nerves. Also, if nerve endings remain in the flap of peeled flesh, the brain might rewire itself to send and receive signals to the injured area.
Scars happen when damaged tissue gets replaced with less pliable replacement cells. Skin can scar when it suffers a degloving injury. The odds of scarring tend to increase when doctors treat the injury with a skin graft.
If the degloving injury has severely damaged the tissue, a doctor might recommend amputation. Injuries to the blood vessels, nerves, and skin might leave the tissue too damaged to heal properly.
For example, suppose that your ring got caught in a machine in a workplace accident. The machine could deglove all of the skin, muscle, and underlying tissue from the finger, leaving just the bones.
In this case, a doctor might need to amputate the finger rather than trying to repair it.
What Are the Risk Factors for a Degloving Injury?
Any type of accident can cause a degloving injury. Some examples of accidents that have a high risk of a degloving injury include:
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
When a car hits you and you hit the pavement, the forces can peel the tissue from your body. One common degloving injury happens in pedestrian accidents when your head hits the pavement, and your scalp gets degloved from your skull.
If you wear a bicycle helmet, you might protect your scalp from degloving in a bicycle accident. However, sharp edges on your bicycle, the vehicle, or the road surface could still peel tissue from your arms, legs, and torso.
Even if you wear a motorcycle helmet, your unprotected body can suffer a degloving injury in a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle accidents can involve sharp edges and abrasive surfaces, such as broken glass, torn metal, and asphalt, that can peel soft tissue.
Workplace accidents are notorious for causing degloving injuries. Machines can trap you and strip your soft tissue before you can hit the emergency stop button.
Degloving injuries are a major reason employers often ban jewelry and loose clothing for employees assigned to work with or around heavy machinery.
What Compensation Can I Recover for Degloving Injuries?
If you have suffered a degloving injury due to someone else’s negligence, you can seek compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
Your economic losses include your medical expenses and lost income. You will likely incur substantial medical expenses for surgery, medication, and physical therapy. You will also miss time from work during your treatment and recovery.
Your non-economic losses include all of the ways your injuries reduced your quality of life. Pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, and scarring can support a claim for non-economic damages.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
To learn about the compensation you can seek for your degloving injury caused by another party, contact Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. Our experienced Houston personal injury lawyers will listen to the facts of your case and provide guidance on your best course of action to pursue compensation.