Spinal Cord Injury
Suspected Spinal Cord Injury Treatment
If you have a patient who is conscious, or unconscious and breathing with a suspected spinal cord injury call for paramedics or any other form of professional help immediately and immobilize the patients head and neck. You don’t need a cervical collar for this; use cushions or place a towel under the patients head, then roll up both ends until they are against the patient’s ears and tape it all in place.
If your patient is unconscious and not breathing normally start CPR.
The best position for a suspected spinal injury patient is flat on their back on a firm surface, with their head immobilized.
The only reason you would move a patient with suspected spinal injuries would be if they were in any form of danger and had to be totally relocated, or their airway was compromised and it was imperative to place them into the recovery position for manual clearance.
In both of these scenarios you cannot do it by yourself because the entire spine must be kept in a neutral alignment whilst the patient is being moved.
To fully relocate a patient without exacerbating their injury you would need a portable, firm surface the size of the patient to act as a spinal board and at least two people to carry it.
To log roll a patient into the recovery position an absolute minimum of two people are needed. One to control the head and one to roll the patient. Four to Six people would be optimal.
When You Must Move The Patient
1. If the patient stopped breathing and you have to move them to perform CPR.
(CPR takes precedents over all injuries without exception)
2. If there is life threatening danger and you have to move them to safety.
Always suspect a spinal injury if the patient has sustained a significant blow to the head or has fallen from 3 meters or greater
• If the neck appears deformed do not try to straighten it.
• If there is no obvious deformity keep the patient still with their head in the neutral position