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What should you do if you suspect a spinal cord injury?

If you’re involved in a collision or workplace accident and believe that you or another victim may have a spinal cord injury, there are specific steps that you can take to get help and minimize the risk of further complications.

When people suffer from spinal cord injuries, they may be paralyzed, in severe pain or dealing with other serious or life-threatening symptoms. It’s important not to delay medical care whenever possible.

If you suspect a spinal cord injury, here are five steps to take right away.

  1. Call 911 immediately

The first thing to do is to call 911 and get emergency medical personnel on their way to your location.

  1. Try to keep the person still

As long as no one is in danger, the best thing to do at this time is to keep yourself or anyone else with a spinal cord injury as still as possible. If someone else is hurt, place heavy towels, sheets or other items next to the head and neck to prevent movement when possible.

  1. Provide first aid without as much movement

First aid should be given when necessary, but when a neck or head injury is suspected, it should be done cautiously. The person giving first aid should avoid moving or lifting up the head or neck. Try to stabilize the head and neck if chest compressions are needed.

  1. Don’t remove safety equipment

If the person who was injured is wearing a helmet or neck piece, don’t remove it unless you need to for access to the airway. Why? The helmet or other personal protective equipment may be stabilizing the patient’s injuries.

  1. Work in teams

Finally, if you’re assisting a victim who needs to be rolled over or moved, work as a team. Several people may lift or roll them together at the same time to minimize movement.

Get medical care for anyone with a suspected spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injuries are very serious, so it’s important to be cautious as you provide aid. Anyone with a suspected spinal cord injury needs medical care as soon as possible.