One of the most serious injuries associated with accidents in Kansas City is a spinal cord injury. The spinal cord is responsible for conveying messages from the brain to the body. If something injures the spinal cord, it could interfere with this messaging system – or interrupt it permanently. Sadly, there is no known cure for spinal cord injuries. However, treatments are available to minimize the impact of the injury, improve the patient’s quality of life, and potentially restore some lost function or feeling.
Immediate First Aid
There are steps that are taken immediately after a spinal cord injury is incurred to help protect the victim from further damage. If you are the first to the scene of an accident and there is reason to suspect that a victim has suffered an injury to the spine, call 911 to report the accident and request paramedics. Stay with the victim for assistance and support. Keep the person still as much as possible – especially his or her neck. Use rolled-up clothing or towels to put on either side of the victim’s neck. If the victim is wearing a helmet, leave it on.
When paramedics arrive, they will generally start treatment by taking the following actions:
Checking to see if the victim is breathing and has a heartbeat. Cervical spinal cord injuries can interfere with a victim’s ability to breathe normally and may require immediate intubation.
Immobilizing the victim. The spine is very delicate and highly susceptible to injury. When the spine has been injured, moving it the wrong way even by a fraction could lead to further damage.
Taking the victim to a hospital. Any injury to the neck, back or spine requires professional medical care. A doctor can diagnose a spinal cord injury using a physical exam, tests and x-rays.
Administering steroids. When a patient is diagnosed with a spine injury, the initial treatment is often a high dose of steroids to decrease inflammation and swelling that may further damage the spinal cord.
Stabilizing the spine. Next, the patient will be placed in a special device to help stabilize the spine and prevent further damage. This will continue until the patient can receive further medical treatment.
The immediate medical care given to a spinal cord injury survivor can vary from case to case. The most important thing to remember as one of the first people to the scene of an accident is to avoid moving a victim with a back injury, unless it is absolutely necessary, and to call 911 without delay. Once the victim is at a hospital or medical center, he or she will receive a treatment plan for further or ongoing care.
Surgery might be required to relieve pressure that is being exerted upon the victim’s spine from swelling or inflammation. If part of the vertebrae is broken and is compressing the spinal cord, for example, the patient may undergo surgery to remove the broken portion. Another goal for spinal cord surgery is to stabilize the spine, such as by placing metal rods or screws in the spinal cord for added support if the vertebra is weakened from a fracture or trauma.
In addition to or in lieu of surgery, a spinal cord injury victim may benefit from several other types of ongoing care. While medical treatments cannot reverse a permanent spinal cord injury such as paralysis, they may be able to restore some degree of function or the victim’s independence. Common treatments for a spine injury include physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational therapy, rehabilitation, electrical stimulation and psychiatric therapy. The treatment regime recommended to a patient will depend on his or her specific needs, diagnosis, prognosis and many other factors.
If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with a spinal cord injury after an accident in Kansas City, contact our spinal cord injury lawyers at The Wendt Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation. You may be entitled to financial compensation to help pay for your injury treatments.