National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month
September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. At Altus Emergency Centers, we want to do our part in helping to raise awareness of the dangers, treatment, and prevention of spinal cord injuries.
Spinal Cord Injury Facts
Earlier this year, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center released the following statistics: 17,730 new cases of spinal cord injury (SCI) occur every year
- Approximately 296,000 Americans are currently living with SCI
- 78% of new spinal cord injuries are male patients
- The average age of injury is 43, in the 1970’s it was 29
- 59.1% of SCI victims are Non-Hispanic whites, 24.2% are Non-Hispanic blacks, 13.3% are of Hispanic origin, and 2.5% are Asian
The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are:
- Vehicular Accidents 38.2%
- Falls 32.3%
- Violence (Mostly from Gunshot Wounds) 14.3%
- Sports or Recreational Activities 7.8%
- Medical/Surgical 4.1%
- Other Causes 3.3%
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is made up of all the nerves that run down the center of your back. These nerves carry the signals from our brain that allows us to move our legs, arms, and the rest of our body. The nerves also send messages back to the brain about any sensations we feel, such as pain and pleasure.
Spinal cord injuries usually happen when a blow fractures or dislocates the vertebrae, which damages the nerves and disrupts the signals.
SCI is a medical emergency. Patients who receive immediate treatment have a better chance of reducing the long-term effects of type of injury.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are two types of spinal cord injuries:
- Complete Spinal Cord Injury: With this type of injury, the damaged nerves can’t send signals below the level of the injury. Therefore, the patient is left paralyzed below the site of injury.
- Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury: With this type of injury, the patient will still have some movement and feeling below the site of injury.
Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention
You should come to the nearest Altus Emergency Center if you were in a car crash, fell or were otherwise injured and develop any of the following symptoms:
- Severe pain or pressure in your neck, head or back
- A Tingling sensation or loss of feeling in your hands, fingers, feet or toes
- Partial or complete loss of control over any part of the body
- Urinary or bowel incontinence or retention
- Abnormal sensations of pain or pressure in the thorax
- Difficulty breathing after injury
- Unusual lumps on your head or spine
How are Spinal Cord Injuries Diagnosed
Trauma patients who come to our ER are immediately evaluated to determine the severity of their injuries. The first thing our doctors will do is to make sure the patient can to breathe and has a pulse.
Next, we will check the neurologic function of the patient by testing their strength and how much feeling they have in their arms and legs.
If there is weakness or the patient is unconscious, a rigid cervical collar is placed on them to prevent them from further injury.
At this point, the doctor will order a CT Scan of the patient’s spinal cord to determine if there are any fractures or other abnormalities of the spinal cord.
At Altus Emergency Centers, we can diagnose and stabilize spinal cord injury victims, and have them transported to the nearest hospital that can treat them.
Our minimal wait time guarantee means patients can start receiving treatment faster and increase their chances of recovery.