People who are in a crash might suffer from a spinal cord injury which requires emergency care. When you get to the hospital, there are several things that the medical team is going to do. The top priority is to do what they can to stabilize you so that you survive the injury.
Once you are stabilized, the team will move on to taking care of things like making you comfortable and helping you heal. All of this is likely going to happen in a short period of time. Because of the speed that these professionals work, it can become overwhelming. Try to remember that they are doing this for your best interests.
Spinal cord protection
Immediately after a spinal cord injury, the body tries to protect itself, but this can actually cause more damage to the spinal cord. Spinal shock, which is what this process is called, starts right after the catastrophic accident and can last a few days to week after. During this period, you might experience an increase in the symptoms, but those will subside as the spinal shock abates.
Spinal shock occurs due to a chemical reaction within the body. It causes damage to the cells of the spinal cord, and it can lead to swelling in the damaged area.
Efforts to minimize the effects of the spinal shock is known as neuroprotection. There are several options for this, so the medical team will evaluate your case and determine what steps are appropriate. One option is administering methylprednisolone, which is a steroid, to reduce the inflammation. This is given within the first few hours after the injury.
Therapeutic hypothermia, or cooling, is another option. This is done through using special cooling blankets, intravenous methods and ice packs. The team will determine the best choice or combination to meet your needs.
Spinal cord stabilization
There are cases in which the spinal cord needs to be stabilized to prevent further injuries. This likely needs surgical intervention. Going into surgery enables you to have bone fragments removed, and the surgeon can align the spine in the proper position. Spinal fusion is another possibility. It involves having the vertebrae of the spine attached to each other through the use of rods, plates and screws.
Other interventions might be necessary, depending on the effects of the injury. The medical team will discuss these with individuals as they are needed. For some people, all the medical care is costly. These individuals might choose to seek compensation for the damages they suffered.