For more details refer to Chapter 19.
Injury to the spine is of importance primarily because of the potentially catastrophic effects of damage to the spinal cord. It is by no means always accompanied by neurological damage, but because of the severe and usually permanent effects of neurological injury, it is essential to assume that the possibility of spinal instability exists in almost all injured patients until this can be satisfactorily excluded. Occasionally, neurological injury can occur, particularly in children, without there being an associated spinal fracture.
Most spinal injuries are caused by road traffic accidents, falls or during sport. Many patients sustain a whiplash injury to the soft tissues and ligaments following road accidents, but bony and neurological injuries are more likely when the occupant has been ejected from the vehicle or suffered head injury. Falls from a height, either onto the head or feet, can cause spinal injury, whilst swimming (particularly diving) and horse riding, in addition to contact sports, give rise to a significant number of spinal injuries each year.
Table 7.1. GCS is the sum of the best eye, motor and verbal response.
Best eye response (4)
Was this article helpful?