Nationally Accredited First Aid Courses

first aid pro logo

Spinal Injury: First Aid

Spinal Injury (1)

Table of Contents

Sharon McCulloch

First Aid For Spinal Injury

What is the first aid treatment for spinal injury?
First aid for a spinal injury or a suspected spinal injury involves the following steps:

  • Call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
  • Keep the person still and avoid moving them. If the person must be moved, take great care to maintain alignment of the head and neck with the spine.
  • If the injured person is conscious, reassure the unconscious patient and encourage them to remain still and calm.
  • If the person is not breathing, begin CPR and continue until medical help arrives.
  • If the patient is unconscious due to a head injury, always suspect a spinal injury and support head of an unconscious patient.
  • If the person is wearing a helmet, do not remove it from the injured person’s head unless it is necessary to provide breathing support.
  • If the injured person is lying on their back, gently roll them onto their side with the assistance of another person to open airway.
  • If the person has multiple injuries or is bleeding, apply pressure to the wound and keep the person still.

Remember that providing first aid for spinal injury can be complex and potentially dangerous. Only provide first aid if you are trained to do so or under the guidance of a medical professional.

What Is The Common Treatment For Spinal Cord Injuries?

Spinal Injury

The common treatment for spinal injuries depends on the severity and location of the injury.

In suspected spinal injuries, the first step is to immobilise the spine and support head to prevent further damage. This is typically done through a rigid cervical collar, a backboard or a vacuum mattress.

In more severe spinal cord injury cases, surgery may be necessary to remove any fragments of bone or foreign objects compressing the spinal cord. This may also involve fusing vertebrae together to stabilise the spine.

Rehabilitation is also an important part of treatment for spinal injuries, as it can help the patient regain some function and independence. This may involve physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other forms of specialised rehabilitation.

Medications may also be used to manage symptoms of a spinal cord injury, such as pain, spasticity, or bladder or bowel control.

Overall, treatment for spinal injuries requires a multidisciplinary approach involving medical professionals such as neurologists, neurosurgeons, and rehabilitation specialists.

Head, Neck And Spinal Injuries First Aid 

Head, neck and spinal injuries are serious medical emergencies that require immediate attention. These types of injuries can result from various accidents, such as falls, a heavy object falling, car accidents or sports injuries.

The first step in providing first aid for head, neck and spinal injuries is to ensure that the person is safe and that the area around them is secure. This involves immobilising the head and neck to prevent further movement, removing the injured person from immediate danger, and calling for emergency medical assistance.

It is important not to move the person unless necessary, as sudden movements could cause further damage.

While waiting for medical help, monitoring the person’s breathing and other vital signs and providing basic first aid treatment such as stopping bleeding or CPR if necessary is important. Ensure the casualty’s head and neck are supported and have reduced mobility.

What Are The 5 Signs Of A Spinal Injury?

The five signs of a possible spinal injury include:

  1. Severe pain or pressure in the neck, head or back.
  2. Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation in the extremities.
  3. Loss of bowel or bladder control.
  4. Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  5. Weakness or paralysis in the limbs or extremities.

It is important to note that these symptoms may not always be present, and the severity of the symptoms can vary depending on the location and extent of the spinal injury. If you suspect that someone has suffered a spinal injury, it is important to seek immediate medical attention to prevent further injury.

What Should You Do If You Had To Move A Person With A Suspected Spinal Injury?

If you have to move a person with a suspected spinal injury, it is important to take great care to maintain the alignment of the head and neck with the spine to prevent further damage.

Call for emergency medical assistance and wait for trained medical professionals to arrive. If you must move the person, keep their body straight and avoid twisting or bending their neck or back. If the person is lying on their back, use a coordinated effort with another person to gently roll them onto their side while maintaining alignment of their head and neck with the spine.

This is called the recovery position and can help to maintain an open airway and prevent choking. If the person needs to be lifted, use a rigid cervical collar, backboard, or vacuum mattress to maintain spinal alignment during the lift.

Spinal Injury Recovery Position

First aid for spinal injury – Spinal Recovery Position, also known as the lateral recumbent position. The recovery position is used to help maintain spinal alignment in a person with a suspected spinal injury; this position can also help to maintain an open airway and prevent choking. If you suspect a spinal injury:

  • Kneel beside the person.
  • Place the arm closest to you at a right angle to the body, with the palm facing up.
  • Bring the other arm across the chest and hold the back of the hand against the person’s cheek farthest from you.
  • Bend the far leg at a right angle and use the hand closest to the person to hold the knee.
  • Pull your other hand on the person’s hip farthest from you to roll them onto their side.
  • Adjust the upper leg so the hip and knee are bent at a right angle.
  • Tilt the head back to keep the airway open, keeping the head straight.
  • Monitor the person’s breathing and pulse.

When Is The Most Crucial Time To Treat A Spinal Cord Injury?

The most crucial time to treat spinal cord injuries is immediately after the injury occurs. The first few hours after the injury are critical, as immediate medical intervention can help prevent further damage and improve the chances of recovery.

In suspected spinal injuries, calling for emergency medical assistance is important. While waiting for medical professionals to arrive, keeping the person as still as possible is important to prevent further damage to the spinal cord.

Once medical professionals arrive, they will assess the person’s condition and provide appropriate treatment based on the severity and location of the injury. In some cases, immediate surgery may be necessary to remove any fragments of bone or foreign objects that are compressing the spinal cord.

Overall, the most crucial time to treat a spine injury is in the immediate aftermath of the injury. Early intervention and first aid for spinal injuries can help to prevent further damage and improve the chances of recovery.

What Are The Stages Of Spinal Cord Injury?

Sports spinal injuries can be divided into two stages: the acute stage and the rehabilitation stage.

Acute stage: This initial stage occurs immediately after the injury and lasts several weeks. During this stage, medical professionals focus on stabilising the person’s condition and preventing further damage to the spinal cord. Treatment during the acute stage may include immobilisation, medication, surgery, and rehabilitation.

The rehabilitation stage typically begins a few weeks after the injury and may last several months or years. This stage promotes recovery and maximises the person’s function and independence. Treatment during rehabilitation may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, counselling, and assistive devices.

Spinal injuries are also classified based on the level of the injury, which can affect the symptoms and severity of the injury. The spinal cord is divided into segments, each of which is responsible for different functions of the body. The higher up the injury occurs, the greater the loss of function.

Sports-Related Neck Injury

Sports-related neck injuries can be serious and potentially life-threatening, as they can result in spinal cord damage. In the event of a neck injury, it is important to have knowledge of first aid for spinal and neck injuries first. Sports injury first aid courses can provide individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to recognise and respond to injuries and emergencies in sports settings.

If an individual is unconscious or there is suspicion of spinal cord damage, it is important to seek medical attention immediately and provide unconscious patient spinal injury first aid, which involves stabilising the person’s head and neck to prevent any further damage. It is always important to prioritise safety and plan for treatment for sports injuries to minimise the risk of serious injury.

What Are The Most Common Spinal Injuries In Sports? Catastrophic Cervical Spine Injuries

Catastrophic cervical spine injuries, also known as catastrophic neck injuries, are among the most serious spinal injuries that can occur in sports. These injuries involve damage to the cervical spine, which is located in the neck region and is responsible for supporting the head and allowing for movement and sensation in the upper body.

The most common types of catastrophic cervical spine injuries in sports are fractures, dislocations, and spinal cord contusions. These injuries can occur in contact sports such as football, rugby, and hockey, as well as in non-contact sports such as diving and gymnastics.

Catastrophic cervical spine injuries can be life-threatening, resulting in paralysis, quadriplegia, or even death. It is important for athletes, coaches, and medical professionals to be aware of the risks of these injuries and to take appropriate measures to prevent them, such as using proper equipment, following safety guidelines, and receiving immediate medical attention if an injury occurs.

The Four Most Common Sports-Related Spine Injuries

There are several types of spine injuries that can occur in sports, but here are four of the most common:

  • Herniated Disc: This occurs when a disc between two vertebrae ruptures or bulges, causing pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Fractured Vertebrae: A vertebrae fracture can occur due to trauma, such as a hard impact or fall.
  • Spinal Cord Contusion: This is a bruise or injury to the spinal cord that occurs when the spine is compressed or contorted in a way that causes damage.
  • Whiplash: This neck injury occurs when the head is suddenly jerked backward or forward, causing strain or sprain to the neck muscles and ligaments.

These injuries can occur in various sports, including football, hockey, gymnastics, and diving. Athletes must take necessary precautions, such as using proper equipment and techniques and seeking medical attention if an injury occurs. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further damage and aid in recovery.

Sports injuries can be devastating, especially when they affect the spinal cord. A spinal cord injury can lead to lifelong disability and drastically reduce the quality of life. In addition to spinal injuries, athletes can suffer from other injuries, such as shin splints.

Shin splints are a common sports injury that affects the lower leg and can be caused by overuse or poor biomechanics. While shin splints are not typically as serious as a spinal cord injury, they can still cause significant discomfort and interfere with an athlete’s ability to perform. Proper conditioning, training, and rehabilitation can help prevent and treat both spinal cord injuries and shin splints, allowing athletes to stay in the top physical condition and continue doing what they love.

Spinal injuries are serious and potentially life-changing injuries that can occur in various situations, including sports, accidents, and falls. These injuries can permanently damage the spinal cord, leading to paralysis, loss of sensation, or even death. 

Recognising the signs and symptoms of spinal injuries, including extreme pain, numbness, or tingling in the extremities, is essential. If you suspect someone has a back injury, it’s crucial not to move them and to call for emergency medical assistance immediately. 

Knowing how to manage spinal injuries can help prevent further damage and save lives. A first aid course can teach you to recognise and manage spinal injuries in an emergency. Check out our comprehensive, Advanced first aid course.

The content on this website offers general insights regarding health conditions and potential treatments. It is not intended as, and should not be construed as, medical advice. If you are facing a medical emergency, dial 000 immediately and follow the guidance provided.

Popular Posts
Recent Posts
An adhesive bandage and a first aid kit on a table
Bandage Alternatives — What To Use When You Don’t Have Bandages

Discover effective substitutes for bandages in emergencies with this comprehensive guide. Explore homemade alternatives, sticky tape options, wilderness solutions, and tips for managing allergies. Stay prepared for first aid situations with practical advice from FirstAidPro

supporting patient at therapy
Essential Steps in Mental Health First Aid

Mental health is often shrouded in misunderstanding and stigma. Delve deeper into mental health in your workplace and beyond. Mental health first aid is a crucial aspect of our collective well-being, yet it often remains misunderstood and stigmatised. In this article, we delve into the key steps of mental health first aid, aiming to demystify this essential practice and equip you with the knowledge and skills to offer support in times of crisis.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Rescue team (doctor and a paramedic) resuscitating the man on the street.
Demystifying CPR: Understanding Its Vital Role in First Aid

Delve deeper into CPR, its relationship with first aid principles, the different types & the protocols that guide it.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) serves as a vital bridge between life and death in critical situations. By maintaining blood circulation and oxygenation to vital organs during cardiac events or respiratory failure, CPR can significantly increase the chances of survival. Learn more about CPR’s importance, techniques, and its role in first aid principles in our comprehensive exploration.