The average person doesn’t have an in-depth understanding of the spinal cord or what happens when someone injures their spinal cord. They may only know what they have seen in the popular media. Television and film depictions of spinal cord injuries often show people with complete spinal cord injuries who are immediately incapable of moving or feeling their bodies below the injury site.
Those who sever their spinal cords in a car crash often realize right away that something is wrong with their bodies. However, not all spinal cord injuries are complete injuries that actually cut through the spinal cord. Sometimes, an injury partially tears or cuts into a spinal cord without severing it. People might then overlook a spinal cord injury, which puts them in a very vulnerable position. If they try to go along with their daily lives without proper medical care, they could eventually face a much worse prognosis.
Incomplete injuries can worsen
Medical professionals are aware of the risk that someone could worsen an existing spinal cord injury after their primary trauma. The best practices for first responders arriving at car crashes and other incidents that may have caused injury to the neck, head or back include immediate stabilization of the individual to keep them immobile during transportation to medical facilities.
The reason that paramedics strap someone to a backboard is to protect them from the possibility of a secondary injury. Hitting a bump in the road might be all that it takes to cause a jolt down someone’s back that completes the injury and leaves them unable to ever regain function. Heavy exercise, physically-demanding jobs and assaults are all secondary forms of trauma that could worsen an incomplete spinal cord injury.
Those who experience blunt force trauma to their back or intense vehicle motions during a crash could be at risk of a spinal cord injury even though they can still feel and use their legs. The possibility of worsening a potentially treatable spinal cord injury is one of many reasons why those involved in serious motor vehicle collisions may benefit from seeking out medical evaluation right after the crash.