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Emergency room treatment of a spinal cord injury

If a person suffers a spinal cord injury, such as in a motor vehicle accident, it is essential that he or she receives immediate care.

Immediate attention at the scene of the accident can be the difference between minimizing the long-term impact and permanent injury. Once a person is stabilized at the scene, he or she will then be transported to a local emergency room. It is there that treatment continues.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, health care providers turn their attention to ensuring that the person is able to breathe. Furthermore, they immobilize the neck to avoid additional damage.

At that point, the medical team will decide which steps to take next. This may include:

-- Surgery, often times to remove tissue, fluid or bone fragments.

-- Traction. This helps align the spine.

-- Medrol. This steroid medication can help reduce nerve cell damage and inflammation.

-- Experimental treatment. While not always implemented, there are times when this is an option. Scientists are working hard to find new ways to treat spinal cord injuries.

A spinal cord injury must be treated quickly and in the appropriate manner. This can go a long way in helping improve the injured person's long-term outlook.

Even though most people identify spinal cord injuries with paralysis, this is not always the end result. There are times when an injury can be treated, helping a person avoid serious long-term impact.

Spinal cord injuries can be the result of many incidents, including motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents and slip and falls.

Source: The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, "What are the treatments for spinal cord injury (SCI)?," accessed April. 01, 2015

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