How can you tell if someone has a spinal injury?

Assume a person has a spinal injury if:

  • There’s evidence of a head injury; look for wounds on the head or suspect if a patient is unconscious or semi-conscious
  • The person is experiencing pain in his or her neck/back
  • The person is unable to move his or her neck
  • An injury has exerted substantial force on the back or head
  • The person complains of weakness, numbness or paralysis or
  • The person lacks control of his or her limbs, bladder, or bowels
  • The neck or back is twisted or positioned oddly

If you think that someone has a spinal injury, please do the following:

  1. Get emergency medical help
  2. Keep the person still. Place heavy towels on both sides of the neck or hold the head and neck to prevent movement.
  3. Keep the helmet on. If the person is wearing a helmet, don’t remove it.
  4. Don’t move or roll the person alone. If you must roll the person because he or she is vomiting, choking on blood, or in danger of further injury, you need at least one other person.

With one of you at the head and another along the side of the injured person, work together to keep the person’s head, neck, and back aligned while rolling the person onto one side.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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