If you want to boost your odds of surviving a serious car accident, you should always wear a seat belt when you drive or ride in any type of motor vehicle. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that seat belt usage cuts the number of serious injuries and deaths in traffic accidents approximately in half. 

While your seat belt may save your life, it may also leave you with life-altering injuries. Seat belt syndrome is the collective name for car-related injuries that individuals sustain when using vehicle restraint systems. If you have four symptoms, you may be suffering from seat belt syndrome. 

1. Midsection bruising 

The forces of any car accident have the potential to be extreme. When your midsection pushes against a seat belt, you may develop bruising in a belt-shaped pattern across your torso and abdomen. While bruises are not usually serious, they can cause major complications, such as blood clots or numbness. 

2. Abdominal pain 

It is usually normal to feel some soreness after a motor vehicle accident. Still, you should not have either acute or prolonged pain in your abdomen. If you do, blunt-force trauma from your seat belt may have caused muscular or internal injuries. 

3. Abnormal bowel movements 

Seat belt syndrome may cause internal bleeding that is hard to detect. If you have a dark or bloody stool, you may need immediate medical care. The same is true if you have abnormal bowel movements, such as constipation or diarrhea. 

4. Loss of motion 

While your car’s seat belt holds you in place, it may also put tremendous pressure on your nervous system. If you have paralysis or loss of motion, you may have damage to your spinal cord, vertebrae, brain or nerves. 

While bruising, pain, abnormal bowel movements and loss of motion may indicate seat belt syndrome, they may also reveal other serious injuries. Therefore, following any accident, it is critical to seek a full medical examination to be certain you have not sustained substantial bodily harm.