As has been discussed earlier, a high index of suspicion is important in the acute management scenario.
The mechanism of injury and the events leading up to the injury are key parameters in suspecting that a spinal cord injury may have occurred.
Whilst there are some obvious conditions in which injury to the spinal cord can be anticipated, there will always be cases with a surprising or unexpected mechanism of injury and it is wise to be open minded wherever possible.
Suspect a SCI if the injured person:
- is unconscious as a result of a head injury
- has been injured above the clavicle
- has been injured in a high speed motor vehicle accident
- is injured in a manner known to cause SCI (e.g.. scrum collapse in football)