A spinal injury or a damage to the spinal cord is one of the most serious types of injuries with the capacity to cause a lasting as well as significant impact on the daily life of a patient. Often caused by a violent event or an accident, it is crucial to be very careful while moving the unconscious patients, the patients complaining of back or neck pain as well as the victims who report poor limb motor functions. In case there are injuries in the neck, head or the back, a wrong movement can cause paralysis and even death of the patient.
Signs of Spinal Cord Injury
Here are some of the signs of spinal cord injury where you need to observe extra caution.
- Bleeding from the neck or the back
- Odd position of the head, neck or the back
- Pain in the head, neck or the back
- Stiffness in the neck
- Impaired breathing
- Numbness or a tingling sensation felt in the toes and hands
Certain conditions like shock, head or spinal injury call for usage of special lifting and moving strategies. The patients with suspected spinal injuries must be placed in supine position using spineboard
Check out on the Surroundings
A look at the surroundings will help you know whether the patient has a spinal injury. Be on the lookout for bigger and heavier objects in the surroundings or anything else suggesting fallen debris, slips, falls or any other mishap. This will help you to ascertain the type of injury sustained by the patient.
Do not Open the Helmet
It is better not to attempt opening the helmet. But if you find that it is blocking the airway, you may consider it. You would require an assistant in this case. Don’t try to open the helmet alone. Make sure you do not trap the nose while you open the helmet.
Try to Keep the Patient Still
It is crucial to keep the patient as still as possible because even a slight movement can create the difference between walking and not walking through life. Try thinking of the spine as one fixed line and your goal is to lift the patient onto the stretcher and finally reach the hospital without disturbing the line at all.
The best way to move the patient is by pulling the patient by his legs or the shoulder. While you move the patient, try to keep the head in a neutral position. Make sure that the head or the neck does not move. You can do this by placing a few heavy towels on the either side of the head or by getting someone to grip the head of the patient so that the head, neck and the spine are in a straight line.
Use the CPR Strategy
If the victim is unconscious, you need to open the airway by making use of the jaw-thrust technique. For this, put fingertips at angles of the jaw and then try lifting it. This will open the airway. While you are doing this, make sure you do not tilt the neck. Done? Now check whether the patient is breathing now. If he is still not breathing, you need to start the chest compressions or better, cardiopulmonary resuscitation as soon as possible.
Avoid Rolling the Patient
Try not to roll the patient. But if you feel that this may aggravate the danger in instances when the patient is vomiting, choking or may get injured further, you need to take an action. However, if you have to roll the patient, never ever make the mistake of trying your hands alone. To roll the victim to his sides, you can use the normal rolling strategy but you need to keep the spine straight. Get a few helpers to keep the head, upper part of the body and the legs in a straight line. Make sure all the parts of the body are moved simultaneously. You can try counting so that you can move in unison.
The time lost between injury and treatment is critical in spinal injury so get the patient transferred to a hospital as soon as possible but make sure that the patient does not get injured further in the process.