Spinal cord injury: From the scene to the emergency room

If you suffer a spinal cord injury, such as in a serious motor vehicle accident, it's critical to receive immediate medical treatment as to stabilize your condition and improve the likelihood of making a recovery.

Despite advancements in the treatment of spinal cord injuries, doctors have yet to find a way to reverse the damage. However, there is a standard of treatment that can help minimize the impact.

Here's what you should expect at the scene of the accident:

  • The responding paramedics will assess your health, which typically leads to the immobilization of your neck and spine
  • With the use of a carrying board, you're transported from your current location, such as inside your vehicle, to the ambulance

If you suspect a spinal cord injury, don't attempt to move while awaiting paramedics. Doing so can result in additional damage.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, your medical team will:

  • Continue to immobilize your neck, while taking great caution as they provide treatment
  • Check all your vitals, such as your blood pressure and breathing, to ensure stability

As soon as possible, they'll arrive at a treatment plan to guide the next steps. This can include:

  • Surgery: There are many reasons for this, including to remove bone fragments, to fuse together fractured bones or to remove excess fluid from the area.
  • The administration of Methylprednisolone: If administered within eight hours of a spinal cord injury, it may be able to reduce inflammation and nerve cell damage.
  • Traction: Depending on the type of injury, traction may be necessary to properly align the spine.

Finally, if your medical team deems it necessary, they may discuss experimental treatments with you. This may be the best option if more traditional forms of treatment fail to deliver the intended results.

Spinal cord damage often occurs as the result of a motor vehicle accident, such as one in which your vehicle is crushed by a commercial truck while traveling on the highway.

Since this type of injury will alter your life in many ways, it's critical to learn more about the cause, your legal rights and any steps you can take to seek compensation from the negligent trucker and other responsible parties.

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