This type of injury affects the spinal column or spinal cord which runs all the way from the upper neck down to the tail bone. This is where all the spinal nerves leave the brain and branch off, on their way down, to the various body parts. The higher up the injury occurs, the more body parts that will be affected. Motor vehicle crashes cause half of all injuries to the head and spine.
Prevention of Spinal Injuries
The following safety practices can help prevent injuries to the head and spine.
- Wear the right helmet and wear it properly.
- Always wear a seatbelt and make sure that small children are safely secured in car seats.
- Prevent falls around the home and work place with nonslip floors; nonslip tread and handrails on stairs; and rugs secured with double-sided tape.
- If diving in water, make sure it is deep enough.
- Use ladders carefully and correctly.
Causes of Spinal Injuries
The cause of an injury often is the first clue you may have in judging the seriousness of a head or spine injury. Spinal injuries should be suspected with the following situations:
- A fall from a height.
- And diving injury.
- A person found unconscious for unknown reasons.
- A car crash.
- Any person thrown from a motor vehicle.
First Aid for Spinal Injuries
The most important thing you can do is to make sure the person does not move, no matter what. Even if they are able to move, if a spinal injury is suspected they should be kept absolutely still and an ambulance should be called immediately. Any movement can damage the spinal cord even more and lead to a more serious and permanent injury.
Remember, as first aiders we can not confirm or rule out a spinal injury, all we can do is suspect it based on the warning signs and on what has happened. And if we suspect such an injury then we should always respond to situation as if there really is a spinal injury. It is the job of advanced medical professionals (at the hospital) to confirm or rule out a spinal injury, usually with x-rays.