Emergency Services: Spine
The spine consists of a vertebral column that begins at the base of the skull and ends at the lower back. The spinal cord is a collection of nerves that travel along the vertebral column. There are about 31 pairs of nerves that branch from the spinal cord to your arms, legs, chest, and abdomen. FrontLine ER hereby shares with you more about the spine.
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
Unlike other parts of the body, the spinal cord is very delicate and it’s susceptible to injury. It doesn’t have the ability to do a self-repair once damaged. An injury happens when the spinal cord is damaged by trauma, compression from tumors or loss of its normal blood supply. The injuries can be described as complete or incomplete.
Complete (SCI) involves a complete loss of sensation and muscle function in the body below the level of the injury.
Incomplete (SCI) involves partial functioning and sensation below the level of the injury.
In the two scenarios, both sides of the body are affected in equal measure and when the upper part of the spinal cord is damaged, it can cause quadriplegia-paralysis of both arms and legs.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injury
Knowing the causes of spinal cord injuries can go a long way in preventing you from becoming a victim. Younger men are prone to becoming SCI victims because they likely to engage in risky activities such as high-speed driving or playing dangerous sports.
Some of the leading causes are:
• Auto and Motorcycle accidents
• Sports such as surfing, snowboarding or horseback riding
• Gunshot Wounds
• Violent Altercations
• Medical and Surgical Complications
Emergency room doctors like the ones at FrontLine ER are in a position to rule out a spinal cord injury by carefully examining, testing for sensory function and movement, and asking the patients questions regarding the incident that may have led to the injury.
If the person is unconscious or is showing signs of neurological injury, emergency diagnostic tests need to be carried out. He/she may also have other injuries or illnesses that can make the history and physical examination unreliable.
Medical tests carried out at FrontLine ER include:
• X-rays. Emergency physicians can order for these exams on patients who are thought to have a spinal injury after a trauma. X-rays show the vertebral column problems, fractures, tumors, or any progressive changes in the spine.
• CT (Computerized tomography) scan provides a more detailed look at abnormalities found on an X-ray. This scan uses a mechanism to form a series of cross-sectional images that are able to define bone, disk, and other problems.
• Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) works by using strong magnetic field and radio waves to generate images. This test is very comprehensive in identifying herniated disks, blood clots or anything that may be compressing the spinal cord.
It is unfortunate that spinal cord damages are irreversible. However, doctors and researchers are continually working towards new advancements such as medication that can stimulate nerve cell regeneration or recuperate the remaining nerves after an injury. Even with the revolutionary new technologies that have been developed, the current treatment is only focused on preventing further injury by empowering people with a spinal cord treatment to return to an active and productive life.
Surgery is necessary so that bone fragments, foreign objects, fractured vertebrae or herniated disks can be removed. It is also performed to stabilize the spine to prevent pain or deformity.
Immobilization is important so as to ensure proper alignment and stabilization of the spine. In most cases, a rigid neck collar and a special bed may also be used to prevent further shock and damage.
It is important to seek immediate treatment in order to prevent and ensure survival. In the event of a spinal cord injury, doctors may try several medications or basic trauma management therapy as soon as possible to minimize pain, potential damage, or any future deformation.
Once a patient is in stable condition and urgent treatment has been administered, ongoing care options like rehabilitation can now be considered. Your stay at the hospital will be greatly influenced by your condition and any complications you may be facing.
A team of physicians at FrontLine ER will assess the individual requirements and therapists will be assigned to work on various issues.
Physical therapists usually put emphasis on the:
• Maintenance and strengthening of existing muscle function
• Redeveloping fine motor skills
• Learning adaptive techniques to accomplish day-to-day tasks
Taking the Next Step
As technology progresses, there are many new inventions which can help a patient readjust to their situation and become more independent.
- Availability of modern wheelchairs that are improved and lighter thus making patients become more mobile and comfortable.
- Electric wheelchairs that can climb stairs and elevate a seated person to reach high places without help.
- Electronic Aids use an electrical stimulation to perform daily functions. Also known as functional electrical stimulation systems, they control arm and leg muscles thus allowing patients to stand, walk, reach, and grip. The devices are operated by using a switch or voice-controlled and computer-based remotes.