Paramedics in New Jersey responding to people injured in car accidents or falls assume victims’ heads or spinal cords are injured until proven otherwise. They stabilize your neck and back as much as possible in case your spinal cord has suffered damage. Without these precautions, they might worsen the injury when moving you. Although back and spinal cord injuries may be immediately apparent, sometimes they take a little while to reveal the full extent of harm that a victim has experienced.
How to detect a spinal cord injury
Even if a spinal cord injury does not make itself immediately known, the injury could still produce serious and long-lasting effects. After any accident, especially one where you fell or received a hard impact like in a motor vehicle crash, you should get a medical evaluation.
This is extremely important if you experience these signs of a spinal cord injury:
- Severe back pain
- Pressure in the back, neck or head
- Trouble walking
- Loss of balance
- Tingling or numbness in extremities
- Loss of bladder control
- Difficulty breathing
Do not delay treatment
Rapid treatment could improve your chances for recovery. Going without treatment leaves you uninformed about how to care for yourself. You may make the injury worse and miss chances for rehabilitation that could have helped you regain function. Due to the high and unpredictable cost of medical care, you may be tempted to wait because you are uncertain how to pay for medical care after an accident.
However, with a spinal cord injury, the risks of compromised motor function and lingering pain are too high to ignore and hope for the best. Damaged nerve fibers in the spinal tissue impede your control of muscles and ability to feel sensations. Long-term consequences could include paralysis, weakness and depression.