What to do after someone suffers a spinal cord injury
Exciting as this research is, it will probably be years, if not decades, until we can safely and reliable cure paralysis. For now, doctors and first responders must do their best to help patients who have suffered a suspected spinal cord injury.
If you ever witness an accident in which the victim might have damaged his or her spine, you might have to intervene to keep the injury from getting worse. Today, we will discuss how to do that.
As Reader’s Digest reports, the first thing to remember is not to move the victim unless absolutely necessary, until you can rule out a spinal injury or immobilize the spine. The only exception is when the victim is in imminent danger where he or she is, like the middle of a busy highway.
The next step is to place a collar on the victim’s neck, after asking for permission if the victim is alert enough to grant it. A commercially manufactured cervical collar is ideal, but if one is not available, use clothing, pillows or similar materials. The goal is to keep the head from moving in any direction. At the very least, use your hands or knees to keep the head still.
Once done, feel the victim’s vertebrae or ribs to check for a painful response. Lightly scratch the victim’s hands and feet with a pin or fingernail to see if he or she can feel it. Finally, ask the victim to flex his or her ankles, squeeze your fingers with his or hands and spread his or her fingers.
Hopefully, by this time EMTs will arrive and take over.
A spinal cord injury can lead to permanent disability, possibly robbing you of your ability to work and diminishing your quality of life. If you were paralyzed in an accident, you may have the right to compensation. Talk to a personal injury lawyer for more information.