Immediate care is critical after spinal cord injuries

August 29, 2019 | Crandall & Pera Law
Immediate care is critical after spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries can devastate the victims. Many people don't think too much about how critical the care that is provided within the first few days of the accident. During this phase, protecting the spinal cord is a priority to optimize healing and recovery potential.

Spinal cord protection starts immediately when the injury occurs. The first thing that must happen is stabilization, which is done through the use of a cervical collar and a backboard. These will usually remain in place until the person is evaluated at the emergency room and doctors there determine a course of action.

Other methods to protect the spinal cord

A big risk after the injury is swelling in the area of the damage. The injury itself can trigger a protective response in the body that can cause more damage than what was present initially. This is known as spinal shock, which can make the impacts appear worse than what they will be once the spinal shock abates in a few days to a few weeks.

Medical staff members might decide that you need to take anti-inflammatories to minimize the swelling in the area. Steroids can also be used to help control this response. In some cases, the person will have to be cooled down, which is known as therapeutic hypothermia, to help protect the body's cells from damage.

Addressing the damage to the spinal cord

Some injuries to the spinal cord may not require surgical intervention, but many do. Patients who have detached bone fragments, blood clots, fractures and herniated disks may require surgery. The goal of the procedure is to reduce the pressure on the spinal cord while removing anything that can cause further damage.

Surgery may also be necessary to stabilize the spinal cord. This can involve spinal fusion by adding hardware to the area to stop it from moving. Cadaver bones or bones obtained from other locations on the patient's body may be used to create bone grafts to complete a fusion.

Supporting other impacts

Patients who have higher level injuries may have problems with breathing, so support for this is imperative if the person is going to survive. There can also be challenges with urinary tract, bowel and other bodily functions. Patients also face a risk of infection, in some cases, that require antibiotics.

As you can imagine, the medical care can be costly in these situations. Patients who were injured because of another person's negligence can seek compensation for the damages they are facing. Not only can this cover medical expenses, it may also include other expenses related to the injury.