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Spinal Injury

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Spinal InjurySpinal injury results in an injury to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord. This can cause loss of physical sensation and mobility varying depending on the extent of the injury. A complete injury causes no movement/sensation below injury, while a partial injury will retain some movement or sensation below injury.

Important: If you suspect a back or neck (spinal) injury, do NOT move the casualty as it can result in permanent paralysis and other serious complications.
Suspect a neck or spinal injury if

  • There is an injury because of substantial force on the back or head
  • The casualty does not move his/her neck
  • The head, neck and back are not in a straight line
  • The casualty complains of severe pain in his/ her neck or back

Symptoms

  • Tingling sensation in arms and legs
  • Loss of movement in arms or legs
  • Loss of bowel or bladder function
  • Odd position head, neck, or back
  • Unconsciousness

Action

  • Do NOT move the casualty unless absolutely necessary
  • Keep the casualty calm and still - it is important to keep the person in as much the same position as he/she was found
  • Tend to other injuries without moving the head or neck
  • Make the casualty comfortable and keep warm till medical help arrives
  • Keep airway clear
  • If there is bleeding, control with pressure around not directly on wound
  • Immobilize and remove to hospital as soon as possible
  • If the casualty is wearing a helmet, do NOT remove it
  • If there is an absolute need to move the casualty in case he/she is vomiting, choking on blood or in danger of further injury; get 2 more people for help - support head, neck and back together; carefully roll onto side ensuring all three aligned as you roll (like rolling a log of wood)
  • Do NOT place a pillow under the casualty's head
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