Degloving injuries usually involve high-energy accidents. The accident must involve enough speed and power to strip the skin from your body the same way you remove a glove from your hand.
A degloving injury causes severe damage to your body. After a degloving injury, you might experience visible disfigurement and scarring, nerve damage, and even amputation.
Read on to learn about how a degloving injury happens and when you can recover compensation for it.
What Is the Structure of Your Soft Tissue?
Your bones provide a rigid structure for your body. They also provide leverage for your muscles to move your body. Ligaments hold your skeleton together.
Your soft tissue has several layers. The muscles sit on top of the skeleton and attach to bones through tendons. Together, the muscles and tendons move your body.
A layer of fat sits on top of your muscles and insulates your body to maintain your body temperature. Fat also holds stored energy.
Lastly, skin covers the fat layer.
Your skin performs many functions, including:
- Holding moisture in
- Protecting against microorganisms, solar radiation, and contaminants
- Regulating temperature through the sweat glands
- Producing vitamin D
Nerves run through and under the muscles. The nerves provide motor signals to control the muscles’ movement. Nerve endings also run to your skin to sense pressure, texture, and temperature.
Every cell in your body needs oxygen and nutrients delivered by red blood cells. Blood vessels run throughout your skin, muscles, and bones, transporting red blood cells to all of your body’s soft tissues.
The result is that no matter where you look inside your soft tissue, you will find blood vessels.
What Is a Degloving Injury?
A degloving injury has features of both a laceration and an abrasion. A degloving injury happens when something strips the soft tissue from your body. The soft tissue usually remains attached by a flap. The appearance of a loose glove gives the injury its name.
Degloving injuries can happen when the flesh gets sliced. For example, if your arm gets caught in a sharp tool or machine in a construction accident, a degloving injury can happen if a layer of flesh gets cut from your arm.
Degloving injuries can also happen when you move past a sharp edge at high speed. Thus, you could suffer a degloving injury in a car accident if your head strikes the side window. The sharp edges of the broken glass can peel the scalp off your head.
Abrasions, such as those that happen in motorcycle accidents, can also lead to degloving injuries. At high speeds, sliding along the pavement can cause a degloving injury rather than simply abrading the skin.
What Are the Effects of a Degloving Injury?
Degloving injuries severely damage your soft tissue. In peeling the soft tissue from your body, degloving injuries tear and sever nerves and blood vessels. This leaves the flap of tissue at serious risk of dying.
Muscle cells can live for up to eight hours without blood circulation. This allows doctors to reattach fingers or toes after they get amputated. Doctors could reattach the flap of flesh stripped from your body if you can reach medical treatment quickly enough.
But in many cases, doctors cannot save the tissue. To keep the flap of tissue alive, doctors must reconnect enough blood vessels to supply the flap of flesh with blood. In many cases, they cannot do so.
Even when they can reattach the flap of flesh, the injured area might not regain its full functionality. Doctors can only do so much when they graft nerves, and you might lose motor control and sensation in the reattached flap.
What Are Some Complications from a Degloving Injury?
Degloving injuries can also lead to many complications and side effects, including:
Scarring and Disfigurement
Scars develop because replacement skin cells are tougher and less elastic than your original skin cells. As a result, you can develop tough, raised scars after a degloving injury heals.
If doctors choose to remove the flap instead of reattaching it, the skin grafts used to cover the wound increase the odds of scarring. Combined with the missing chunk of flesh, you could appear visibly disfigured after healing.
A degloving injury not only affects the injury site but can also cut off the blood supply below the wound. If the blood vessels that feed the intact flesh get torn or severed, the intact flesh will eventually die.
For example, suppose that you suffer a degloving injury deep enough to reach the bone. Doctors might recommend amputation of the appendage if they cannot reconnect the blood vessels feeding the flesh below the injury.
Infections happen when bacteria enter your body through an open wound. A degloving injury can become contaminated with microorganisms living on the object that caused the wound.
Doctors can usually treat infections with antibiotics. Without treatment, an infection can worsen into sepsis.
Injured flesh inflames as part of the healing process. But the swelling that accompanies inflammation can squeeze the blood vessels. This squeezing can cause compartment syndrome, a dangerous condition where circulation slows or stops below the injury.
Degloving injuries can sever nerves running to the intact flesh below the injury. This nerve damage can lead to a loss of both motor and sensory function below the flap.
How Do You Recover Compensation for Your Degloving Injury?
When you suffer a degloving injury, you might receive personal injury compensation. If your degloving injury happened at work, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance might cover your medical bills and part of your lost income.
If your degloving injury was caused by someone else’s negligent or intentional actions, you might recover your economic damages plus compensation for pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit.
With a degloving injury, pain and suffering could entitle you to substantial compensation. Permanent disfigurement, scarring, and disability could reduce the quality of your life and limit your ability to perform the tasks necessary for daily life. To discuss the compensation you may be able to recover for your degloving injury, contact William G. Kolodner Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.