Spinal Cord Injury

The Daytona 500 was last weekend. Do you know which body parts are most commonly injured during motor sports? The neck and low back are most often injured, which is likely due to the extreme nature of automobile crashes.

The spinal column encases and protects the spinal cord. An injury to the spinal column or cord can be devastating. There is also a chance that neurological symptoms can linger for years after an injury occurs. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal trauma, and males account for 75% of patients treated with spinal cord injuries.

The extent of the damage to the spinal cord is determined by an MRI and with a thorough medical history exam. Treatment will initially involve stabilizing the spine with a collar, halo-vest, or a body brace. A neurosurgeon will determine the need for surgery and may choose to stabilize internally. Internal fixation involves titanium plates, rods and screws, or bone graft material to fuse the spine. Strengthening of the surrounding back musculature is imperative after injury and surgery. Patients must also become educated on how to cope with performing certain activities of daily living that will be more challenging after surgery or while wearing an external orthosis.

Spinal cord injuries vary in severity and damage may only be temporary. Compliance to physical therapy instruction is important in order to have the best chance for recovery. The last lap of the Daytona 500 was finished under a caution flag because of a crash on the track. Although anti-climactic, driver safety is a top priority due to the potential for serious injury.

See the following article for more details on spinal cord injuries:  Spinal Cord Injuries

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