High index of suspicion
It is critically important to suspect the occurrence of spinal-cord injury if we are to prevent potentially worsening the condition.
It has been estimated that as many as one in four spinal cord injury injured persons deteriorating between the time of their accident or injury and their final arrival in hospital. While some of this is undoubtedly due to the nature of the injury itself, particularly in the case of multiple or massive trauma, some of it must sadly reflect the failure to suspect that a spinal injury occurred in the first place and to treat the injured person appropriately.
Even sadder is the prospect that a suspected spinal cord injury is inappropriately or incompletely immobilised, handled, packaged or transported such that further damage occurs once the first responders have arrived.
One must always have a high index of suspicion, and maintainawareness in all situations with spinal cord injury is known to occur.
Wecan suspect spinal cord injury in a number of circumstances, but most particularly if the person:
- is unconscious as a result of a head injury
- has been injured above the clavicle (collarbone) on either side
- has been injured in a high-speed motor vehicle accident
- Or has been injured in any manner known to cause spinal-cord injury.