You may not have considered the implications of a spinal cord injury before but it is worth being aware of the emergency signs and symptoms of one. There are approximately 15,000 Australians with spinal cord injuries.
The effects of a spinal cord injury are life-changing. In extreme cases, people experience tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Identifying the issue early and getting expert help from a respected neurosurgeon is essential for the best possible outcome.
If you’ve got a spinal cord injury you’re not just going to have to deal with the physical effects, there are emotional consequences that also need to be considered.
A spinal cord injury will reduce or eliminate your ability to control your limbs. The limbs affected are defined by the location of the spinal cord injury. It’s also important to be aware of the two levels of injury:
In this scenario, you lose all ability to feel or control the affected limbs. It’s like they are not there.
Incomplete means you still retain some ability to feel or move the affected limbs. The degree of affliction varies according to the nature and intensity of the injury.
If you notice any of the following signs you need to get medical help immediately. It’s highly likely that the spinal cord injury will be the result of an accident, which means you’ll probably already be seeing a doctor.
· Intensive pain in your back, head, and even your neck
· Loss of bladder or bowel control
· Difficulty breathing normally
· Struggling to walk normally or retain your balance
· Numbness in your extremities, you can also experience tingling in the extremities
· Weakness in specific limbs
· Paralysis in any part of your body
If in doubt, seek medical help. This is particularly true if you’ve had a trauma to your head or neck. The extent of the injury may not be immediately apparent, the earlier you get treatment the better the prognosis.
If you think that someone has suffered a back or neck injury it's essential that you call the emergency services and do not move the person. They should be kept as still as possible.
You can place heavy towels next to each side of their head, this will help to prevent them from moving and potentially worsening the injury.
Of course, basic first aid to stop bleeding and ensure they are comfortable is permissible, but you need to avoid moving the head and neck.
It’s worth noting that more men suffer spinal cord injuries than women. You’re also more likely to suffer this type of injury if you’re between 16 and 30 or if you are past 65 when there is an increased risk of falls.
You’re also at higher risk if you have a bone or joint disorder such as arthritis or osteoporosis. These simply make your body more vulnerable to damage.
There can be many complications associated with a spinal cord injury, it’s impossible to say what will or will not affect any individual but help and mental support will be essential.
Published by Pankaj Sharma