Spinal Cord Injury
Shannon G. Johnston, RN, CEN
There are many types of spinal cord injuries (SCI). Patients with SCI can symptoms that range from mild neurologic impairment (such as numbness and tingling of extremities or neck pain) to devastating total body paralysis depending on the extent of damage and where in the spinal cord the damage occurs. Management of airway, breathing and circulation are key with SCI patients, as well as immediate immobilization. With proper care and intervention, chances of survival are greatly improved.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) most commonly occur as a result of falls, motor vehicle accidents, violence, sports injuries, or any other form of impact directed to the spinal cord. Over half of SCIs occur in the adolescent or young adult age group, although the elderly population is at increased risk for SCI because of normal degeneration of the delicate spinal cord (Nayduch, 2010). These injuries can be fatal, cause permanent damage, or have temporary or no effect to the individual at all. Spinal cord injuries occur when there is damage to the neurons of the spinal cord (Huether, 2008). They are usually classified by the type of injury and where it occurs along the spinal cord. Fractures of the bones along the spinal cord or dislocations or partial dislocations of the bony structures most commonly cause SCI. The patient can experience many types of SCI including: * Concussion- short term disruption of the normal anatomy of the spinal cord * Compression- pressure on the spinal cord
* Contusion- bruising or local short term damage to the spinal cord * Laceration- a tear in the spinal cord tissue
* Transection- a complete severing of the spinal cord
* Hemorrhage- bleeding into or around the spinal cord causing pressure and irritation on the cord itself or surrounding tissues * Damage to the blood vessels...