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The spine must be flexible to allow for movement. This is why it is not composed of one solid bone, but 33 separate vertebrae that are set one on top of the other and connected by a system of muscles and ligaments.

In order to maintain a stable centre of gravity, back muscles should be strong so they act as a counterweight and are able to contract in order to compensate for body movements.

Good posture should be maintained on a daily basis to prevent back pain.

The spinal cord is the main pathway of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. It is a long, fragile, tube-like structure that extends downward from the base of the brain. The cord is protected by the back bones (vertebrae) of the spine (spinal column). The vertebrae are separated and cushioned by disks made of cartilage. 

Suspect Spinal Injuries with:

Motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian-vehicle collisions, falls, blunt trauma, diving accidents and any trauma leaving the patient unresponsive.

One of the fears of providing first aid is maybe doing more harm to the patient. With spinal injuries, this can occur if you don't follow some basic rules. The spine itself contains the spinal cord which is where all of the messages from your brain are sent to control your entire body.

The spinal cord, when damaged, cannot be repaired. Depending on where it is damaged, the level of damage will affect the level of paralysis that occurs. Damaging the spinal cord in the lower lumbar region of your back can result in losing the use of your legs. Damage in the higher part of your spine can result in losing control of vital systems such as respiration.

If you suspect a spinal injury but need to place the patient in the recovery position to keep the airway open, try to keep the spine straight.

·      If alone, use the recovery position taught earlier.

·      With 1 helper, one of you steady the head while the other turns the patient.

·      With 2 helpers, you steady the head, one helper turns the patient while the other keeps the back straight.

·      If there are four of you, use the log roll.

It may be that the person has not done any serious damage to their back, but it is better to be safe than to do them further harm. There is only one place that can determine actual spinal damage, and that is a hospital. Therefore, when the EMS arrive, they will also use extreme caution, leaving them in the same position where possible to transport them to hospital.

Treatment

·      Activate EMS

·      Do not move the patient (unless life-threatening danger arises). 

·      Maintain spinal stabilisation.

·      Check ABCs.