Patients who have a spinal cord injury are in for a lot of intensive treatments when they enter the emergency room. This can be a frightening time, but it is one that can make a huge difference in the outcome. The doctors and nurses have a few things to think about when they are handling these types of cases.
The first priority is always saving the patient’s life. This is sometimes a challenge because of the nature of the injury. Higher spinal cord injuries can impact the lungs, which makes it impossible for them to breathe. This necessitates intubation and other methods to help the person breathe suitably. Other life-threatening issues might also occur, and they must be addressed immediately.
Protecting the nervous system
Protecting the nervous system is another priority. When the spinal cord first suffers an injury, the body’s natural response to protect it can do more harm than good. This is known as spinal shock. Managing this can help to prevent too much damage, but the patient might notice that the effects of the injury seem worse than it eventually becomes. As the inflammation associated with the spinal shock lessens, the impacts of the injury might become less pronounced.
The neuroprotection that a patient needs after this type of injury depends largely on the specifics of the injury. Therapeutic cooling sometimes helps these individuals, but medication management is another possibility. The medical team should give the patient the plan so they can understand what’s going on and why they need these treatments.
Stabilization of the spinal cord
Keeping the spinal cord stable is another priority because an unstable spine can lead to more damage of the tissues. This sometimes requires surgery, but traction is appropriate in other cases. Some patients also need a back brace. Spinal fusion is another possibility when the spine needs stabilization.
Most individuals who have a spinal cord injury need to have physical therapy and possibly occupational therapy to regain as much function as possible. The therapist will tailor the program to meet your unique needs, so be sure to relay any symptoms or concerns you might have.
The cost of a spinal injury is often exorbitant. Individuals who suffer one due to the negligence of another person might choose to seek compensation through the civil court system. This is a way to try to recover some of the damages associated with the accident.