Spinal Injuries

Spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when a traumatic event results in damage to cells within the spinal cord or severs the nerve tracts that relay signals up and down the spinal cord. Spinal Cord Injury is damage to the spinal cord resulting in loss of function i.e. feeling and mobility. Most common causes of SCI are car accidents, sports, work accidents or disease, spina bifida, tumours etc. The most common types of SCI include contusion (bruising of the spinal cord) and compression (caused by pressure on the spinal cord). Other types of injuries include lacerations (severing or tearing of some nerve fibres, such as damage caused by a gun shot wound), and central cord syndrome. 

Spinal cord
The spinal cord is a cylinder of nerve tissue that runs down the centre canal in the spine. The nerve fibres in the spinal cord transmit sensory information toward the brain and motor signals to the appropriate parts of the body. The spinal cord also handles some automatic motor responses to sensory information by itself. 

Spinal Column

Cervical spinal nerves (C1 to C8)
These nerves (eight pairs) supply the back of the head, the neck and shoulders, the arms and hands, and the diaphragm.

Thoracic spinal nerves (T1 to T12)
These nerves (12 pairs) supply the chest, some muscles of the back, and parts of the abdomen.

Lumbar spinal nerves (L1 to L5)
These nerves (five pairs) supply the lower parts of the abdomen and the back, the buttocks, some parts of the external genital organs, and parts of the legs.

Lumbar spinal nerves (L1 to L5)
These nerves (five pairs) supply the lower parts of the abdomen and the back, the buttocks, some parts of the external genital organs, and parts of the legs.

Mechanisms of spinal injury

Spinal injuries should be assumed to be present until proven otherwise where:

Signs and Symptoms:
Management

GO DR SHAVPU ACBC 

Support head and neck (Inline immobilisation), Avoid any rushed movements to prevent jarring and rotation of neck and limbs, Use a spinal board or vacuum mattress, Lift patient carefully using kinetics of lifting and correct equipment, Do not attempt to move a patient on your own if you suspect a neck or spinal injury.

Secondary Survey

ASHICE (Consider)

Transport to Hospital (Smooth journey to prevent further complications and discomfort)

Professional Handover

Further Reading
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Pre-Hospital Spinal Care

  • A photographic guide to pre-hospital spinal care. More....
  • If these procedures conflict with your own, then please keep to your current working procedures