First Aid For Spinal Cord Injuries

Facts About Spinal Cord Injuries

  • Spinal cord injury is a serious condition that should be suspected of violent accidents where throat and / or back is damaged
  • Typical symptoms of spinal cord injury are lack of movement of bones and possibly arms and impaired sensation
  • The injured person must be kept calm and it is important to avoid movements in the throat and back
  • Call medical emergency immediately


  • Back injuries can be severe, especially if the spinal cord and nerve root are damaged
  • The nerve nuts contain nerve fibres to the muscles and feelings
  • A damaged spinal cord can lead to paralysis and numbness in the body below the injury site
  • Spinal cord injury should be suspected of all trauma to the back, eg falls from high altitude or violent traffic accidents
  • Wrong injuries can be aggravated by improper treatment

Take caution

  • If you suspect a back or neck injury, do not move on the injured person
  • Permanent paralysis and other serious complications may occur
  • A person should be treated as if there is a spinal cord injury if:
    • There is a major injury with changes in the level of consciousness suffered
    • The injured complained of severe pain in the neck or back
    • The damage has caused a significant force against the back or the head
    • The injured complained of weakness, numbness or paralysis
    • The injured person lacks control of the bladder and / or intestine
    • The neck or back is angry or in an unusual position

Typical symptoms and signs

  • Pain in the back
  • Exceptional pain or “electrical shock” in the limbs or body
  • Inability to feel and / or move arms and legs if the injury is in the neck
  • Inability to feel and / or move bones if the injury is in the chest and / or lumbar tissue

First aid if you suspect spinal cord injury

  • Call an ambulance
  • Keep the injured in peace
    • Ask the injured person not to move
  • Try to provide as much first aid as possible without moving the injured head or neck / back

First aid to unconscious person with suspected spinal cord injury

  • Check if the injured breathes and has a pulse
  • If necessary, ensure open airways. Place your hands on each side of the face so that your fingertips hold under the jaws. Lift gently the jaw forward with your fingers without bending your head backwards
  • Call 112 and call ambulance
  • If the injured person does not breathe, start resuscitation ( child / adult )
  • Record regular vital features such as the level of awareness, pulse and breathing until help arrives
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