The hours following a spinal cord injury are very scary. There are usually a lot of people who are doing a lot of different things. This is done in an effort to stabilize you, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you are going through it. This time can also be hard for the loved ones who are watching what is going on and waiting for information.
Stabilizing a person with a spinal cord injury doesn’t always include the exact same elements. The location of the injury and the severity both impact what might happen. The only thing that you can count on is that your spine will be immobilized. Usually, this involves a neck brace and spinal board.
There are a few areas that first responders and trauma center staff members will focus on at first. Once the neck and back are stabilized, the focus is on patient’s blood pressure and breathing. When there is an upper-level spine injury, there is a chance that the person won’t be able to breathe on their own. This means that they might need ventilator support. Paramedics who respond to the scene might have to use manual breathing support, which would still involve intubation.
Sometimes, a person who has this type of injury might be sedated so that they can be taken care of without a risk of further damage. Traction is sometimes incorporated, which can be painful, so sedation might be used at first. Doctors have to find the delicate balance between immobilization and encouraging the patient to start physical therapy to try to regain some ability.
Neuroprotection is another priority that might be done with or without sedation. The body has natural responses to a spinal cord injury, but these can lead to more damage. Steroids can minimize some of these responses by helping to control inflammation.
Sometimes, neuroprotection requires that the patient be cooled down. Lowering the body temperature can help to prevent some damage after a serious Vehicle accident. This is done by using invasive methods like intravenous cooled saline or non-invasive ones like cooling blankets.
When the spinal cord injury was the result of the negligence of another person, such as when a driver slams into a pedestrian, seeking compensation might be in order. This can help to defray the astronomical costs that come with a serious injury to the spinal cord, which can mean life-long medical and personal care.