Diagnosis of SCI
A diagnosis of spinal cord injury can be devastating to individuals and their loved ones. With so many required medical tests and procedures involved in the acute and long term care following serious spinal injury, the physical and emotional challenges are enough without adding to it worry over medical bills and long term consequences. While nothing can take away the harm you or your loved one has endured, there are ways to recover your financial losses and receive compensation for your suffering if another party was responsible for your injuries.
To learn more about how you can seek compensation for your losses following a diagnosis of spinal cord injury, please contact our qualified attorneys who can listen to your story and determine the best way to help you. Read on to learn more about how spinal cord injury is diagnosed.
Emergency Room Spinal Cord Injury Diagnosis
In an emergency care setting, health care professionals may be able to diagnose or rule out spinal cord injury by learning more about the accident, performing a careful physical evaluation, and carrying out sensory function and movement tests. However, if a injured person suffers altered consciousness, complaints of neck pain, or has clear signs of neurological injury or weakness, diagnostic tests are often required to make a diagnosis of spinal cord injury.
Diagnostic tests for spinal cord injury include:
- X-rays. These tests can show spinal column injuries, fractures, tumors, or degenerative spinal conditions. They are often ordered after a traumatic injury affecting the spine, head, and bones.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to search for and identify spinal cord conditions such as herniated disks, blood clots or other masses that could be causing spinal cord compression.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan creates a serious of cross-section images of the spinal column and may reveal abnormalities better than x-rays.
- Myelography. This test, which involves injecting a special dye into the spinal cord, allows your doctor to see your spinal nerves more clearly. It is often used when MRI isn't possible or when it may provide additional information not available through other tests.
In many emergency care situations, a doctor who suspects a patient has spinal cord injury will utilize traction to immobilize the patient's spine until their condition is better understood. This will prevent additional injury to the spinal cord with movement following an injury.
Once swelling subsides in the days following a serious accident, doctors will often perform a neurological examination to test the level and completeness of a patient's injury. These two factors are important in determining the extent of the damage and the prognosis of a spinal cord injury. Such an exam often involves muscle strength tests and sensory function tests.
The following are some of the terms used when making a diagnosis of spinal cord injury:
- Paresis: Partial paralysis
- Paralysis: Partial or complete loss of motor function
- Paraparesis: A slight degree of paralysis affecting the lower extremities
- Quadriparesis: Partial paralysis of all four limbs (arms, legs)
- Paraplegia: Complete paralysis of both lower extremities and usually the lower trunk. The upper extremities are not involved.
- Quadriplegia (or Tetraplegia): Complete paralysis of all four extremities
- Paresthesias: Abnormal sensations, e.g., burning or tingling