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First Aid for a Spinal Injury

Topic Overview

The possibility of a spinal injury must be considered anytime an accident involves the head, face, neck, or back. Permanent paralysis may be avoided if the injured person is kept from moving (immobilized) and is transported correctly.

  • Do not move the person if you think he or she may have a spinal injury unless there is an immediate threat to his or her life, such as a fire. If there is immediate danger, keep the person's head and neck supported and in a straight line while you move him or her to a safe place.
  • Do not remove the person from the water if he or she has been in a diving accident. Float the person face up in the water until help arrives.
  • Call 911 or other emergency services to transport the injured person if you think he or she may have a spinal injury. This will reduce the risk of more injury to the spinal cord.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised May 16, 2013

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