September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month
One of the most devastating injuries a person can sustain is a spinal cord injury, as these don’t only cause paralysis but also cause long-term emotional issues to patients and their families.
September is National Spinal Cord Awareness Month, and because at Prestige ER we believe prevention is the best medicine, our efforts this month will be to educate the population to reduce the incidence of spinal cord injuries in our community.
What is the Spinal Cord?
The spinal cord is a collection of nerves that run through the vertebral column (backbone). These nerves branch out from the spinal cord to your arms, legs, chest, and abdomen. It is through these nerves that the brain can control the body’s voluntary actions, like moving your arms and legs, and involuntary actions such as breathing, and digestion.
What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?
Most spinal cord injuries are caused by accidents, where a sudden traumatic blow fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more vertebrae. They can also be the result of gunshot or knife wounds that penetrate and cut the spinal cord.
After a traumatic event where the spinal cord has been injured, getting prompt emergency medical attention is crucial, as additional damage occurs within hours or days after the accident due to bleeding, swelling, inflammation, and fluid retention in and around the spinal cord. Experts have concluded that emergency treatment to control the swelling and inflammation should be administered within 8 hours of the injury.
Other less common causes of spinal cord injuries include long-term illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, chronic inflammation, infections, or disk degeneration of the spine.
Preventing Spinal Cord Injuries
There is no way to stop all accidents from happening, but, we can all take certain safety precautions to minimize their incidence or lessen their severity.
Motor Vehicle Safety
- Always wear your seatbelt
- Properly install children’s car seats and other child safety restraints in the car
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or ride with anyone who has
- Avoid distractions while driving, obey all traffic signs and speed limits
Home and Work Safety
- Keep a clean house and office, floors should be clear of hazards that could lead to a fall.
- Install handrails on staircases.
- Use a sturdy latter if you need to change a lightbulb, or clean high windows, don’t use chairs or ladders on an uneven surface.
- Children should always be supervised while they play, a fall from even a few feet in the air can cause spinal cord injuries in children
- Inspect all playground equipment before you allow children to play
- Always supervise kids while they play on a trampoline
- Use helmets and other safety gear that fit properly and discard any worn or damage protective equipment
- When riding a bike on the street obey all traffic signs and don’t wear headphones
- Skateboarders should always check out the area to make sure it is clear of debris and other obstacles that can cause an accident
- Use caution while horse riding, ask about the horse’s temperament and always wear a helmet
- Before diving into a pool make sure it is deep enough, and there is enough water in it, so you do not hit the bottom of the pool. As a rule of thumb, you should never dive into a pool that is less than 10-12 feet deep.
- Never push anyone into a swimming pool.
- Keep the area surrounding the swimming pool clear of hazards and well lit.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention for Spinal Cord Injuries
Anyone who experienced a significant trauma to their head, neck or back must be transported immediately to Prestige ER so they can be evaluated for a spinal cord injury, as these may not be immediately obvious.
You should never attempt to move a patient that you suspect has suffered a spinal cord injury, instead wait for the EMTs.
Prestige ER is the most qualified emergency room in Plano to diagnose and offer immediate medical attention to spinal cord injury victims, we are open 24/7 including holidays, and are staffed with the most renowned emergency physicians.
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