How Doctors Diagnose & Treat Spinal Cord Injuries

Updated on February 16, 2022

Motor vehicle accidents can cause various major and minor injuries. Depending on the force of impact and how the body moves during a collision, a person could sustain a spinal cord injury. Not only should motor vehicle accident victims turn their case over to an accident or accident attorney, but they should also let a doctor thoroughly examine them after the accident. That way, they know if they sustained a spinal cord injury.

Diagnosis Methods

Usually, medical care professionals use imaging testing to identify spinal cord injuries and measure the extent of the injury. An example of an imaging test is a magnetic resonance imaging test. MRIs combine magnetic fields and radio waves to create a comprehensive image of the spine.

Depending on the severity of the car crash injury, an MRI scan may not suffice for some patients. For instance, a person on life support cannot undergo a scan. Another limitation of imaging tests is results take time, which a person may not have. Medical care professionals could need to use other machines and wait to take an MRI scan later for a more in-depth diagnosis.

For faster results, a doctor could recommend computerized tomography scans or X-rays. When medical experts suspect a person sustained a spinal cord injury, they usually order X-rays first, which also identify fractures, tumors and vertebral issues. Depending on the X-rays, the patient may undergo a CT scan, which offers a more comprehensive image of the spine. Another benefit of CT scans is they help pinpoint bone problems and disc issues.

Treatment Methods

If imaging tests reveal a motor vehicle accident victim sustained a spinal cord injury, doctors must create a treatment plan according to injury severity and type. Spinal cord injury patients could take medication. Like the treatment itself, the type of prescription a patient receives depends on the patient’s medical condition.

To facilitate healing, physicians may recommend immobilizing the patient to stabilize and align the spine. To keep the patient still and stabilized, she or he may use a special bed or cast.

A third treatment option is surgery, a common option when spinal trauma breaks off pieces of bone. A medical team may recommend a surgical procedure to ease pressure on the spine and remove foreign objects from the spine. Another benefit of surgery is it helps avoid further trauma. 

Spinal cord injuries require prompt and thorough medical care. When patients and car crash victims know all their diagnosis and treatment options, they can make well-informed medical decisions.

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