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Injuries to the Head and Spine

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1 Injuries to the Head and Spine
Chapter 29 Injuries to the Head and Spine

2 Case History You respond to a 60-year-old man who fell while riding a motorcycle without a helmet. He has a contusion on the left side of his forehead and fluid leaking from his nose, mouth, and ears. He is verbally combative but cannot move his upper and lower extremities.

3 Central and Peripheral Nervous System

4 Brain

5 Layers of the Brain

6 Blood Supply to the Brain

7 Skeletal System Provides structure and support Protects vital organs
Allows movement, in conjunction with muscles

8 Skull

9 Base of the Skull

10 Nerve Cells and Pressure
Nerve cells are very sensitive to pressure. When pressure is applied to nerve cells, function becomes compromised. Determinants of injury from pressure: The amount of pressure applied on nerve The period of time over which it is applied

11 Mechanism of Injury – Compression Forces

12 Mechanism of Injury – Hyperflexion

13 Mechanism of Injury – Hyperextension

14 Lateral Bending Distraction Pulling apart of the spine
Example: Hanging

15 High Index of Suspicion for Spinal Injury
Motor vehicle crashes Pedestrian vs. vehicle collisions Falls Blunt trauma

16 High Index of Suspicion for Spinal Injury
Penetrating trauma to head, neck, or torso Motorcycle crashes Hangings Diving accidents Unconscious trauma victims

17 Spinal Injuries – Signs and Symptoms
Tenderness in the area of injury Pain associated with moving Do not ask the patient to move to try to elicit a pain response. Do not move the patient to test for a pain response. Tell the patient not to move while you are asking questions. Normal function does not rule out spinal injury.

18 Spinal Injuries – Signs and Symptoms
Pain independent of movement or palpation Along spinal column Lower legs May be intermittent Obvious deformity of the spine on palpation Soft tissue injuries associated with trauma From head and neck to cervical spine Shoulders, back, or abdomen (thoracic, lumbar region) Lower extremities (lumbar, sacral region)

19 Motor and Sensory Function – Upper Extremities

20 Motor and Sensory Function – Lower Extremities

21 Loss of Sensation and Function Below Level of Injury
Loss of sensation and paralysis C4: clavicles T4: nipple line T10: navel L1: groin Level of injury – respiratory paralysis Above C3, complete paralysis/respiratory arrest Below C5, intercostals and abdominals, diaphragmatic breathing only Upper or lower extremities Incontinence

22 Assessment of Spine-Injured Responsive Patient
Mechanism of injury Questions to ask Does your neck or back hurt? What happened? Where does it hurt? Can you move your hands and feet? Can you feel me touching your fingers? Can you feel me touching your toes?

23 Assessment of Spine-Injured Unresponsive Patient
Mechanism of injury Initial assessment Inspect for Contusions Deformities Lacerations Punctures/penetrations Swelling

24 Assessment of Spine-Injured Unresponsive Patient
Palpate for areas of tenderness or deformity. Obtain information from others. Mechanism of injury Mental status

25 Complications Inadequate breathing effort Paralysis
Prepare for positive-pressure ventilation. Maintain manual inline stabilization. Paralysis

26 Emergency Medical Care
Body substance isolation Determined by presenting problem Goggles Gloves Mask Gown

27 Critically Injured Patient
Perform a rapid extrication. Bring body into alignment. Transfer to long board without short spine board. Transport immediately.

28 Injuries to the Head – Structural
Specific sections of the brain are injured. Brain lacerations Brain contusions Blockage of vessels (stroke) Injuries can be traumatic or nontraumatic.

29 Structural Injuries – Signs and Symptoms
Result in localized findings (unilateral) Unequal pupils One-sided paralysis One-sided sensory loss

30 Metabolic Injuries Interruption of energy needed for cell life
Poisoning Hypoxia Low blood sugar

31 Metabolic Injuries – Signs and Symptoms
Symmetrical findings General signs of CNS dysfunction

32 Structural vs. Metabolic Findings

33 Secondary Complications of Brain Injury
Hypoxia Hypotension Hypoglycemia Infections Increased intracranial pressure

34 Significance of Secondary Complications
Occur with direct brain injury Aggravate brain function Management is important to overall care. Treatment prevents further injury to the brain.

35 Injuries to the Brain and Skull
Most common cause of traumatic death May be immediate May occur over time Rapid recognition and management is key. Access to surgical intervention is critical. Immobilization, airway, and ventilation Key to prehospital care

36 Injuries to the Brain and Skull
Scalp Skull fracture Concussion Increased intracranial pressure Epidural hematoma Subdural hematoma

37 Related Nontraumatic Conditions
Clots or hemorrhage Nontraumatic brain injuries Can be a cause of altered mental status Signs and symptoms parallel those of traumatic injuries No evidence of trauma Lack of mechanism of injury

38 Skull Injury – Signs and Symptoms
Mechanism of trauma Scalp injuries Contusions Lacerations Hematomas Deformity to the skull

39 Skull Injury – Signs and Symptoms
Blood or fluid leakage from the ears or nose Bruising around the eyes Bruising behind the ears (mastoid process)

40 Concussion Transient loss of consciousness or neurologic function
Many degrees of injury Least severe Momentary loss of function immediately after injury Short period of confusion

41 Concussion – More Severe
Brain contusion Vision loss Paralysis Sensory deficits

42 Signs of Increased Intracranial Pressure
Conscious patients Headaches Nausea Vomiting (sometimes projectile) Alterations in consciousness may occur Sleepy Responds to verbal stimuli Responds to painful stimuli Unresponsive

43 Signs of Increased Intracranial Pressure in Children
Drowsiness, nausea, vomiting Even after minor head injury Worsening may be due to Hypoxia Hypotension Other causes

44 Eye and Motor Findings Unilaterally dilated pupil
May not constrict with light Eyelid may droop Unilateral weakness, paralysis, sensory loss, or a combination may be seen. As pressure increases, motor and sensory findings may affect both sides. With further deterioration, abnormal postures or positions may be seen. Eventual flaccidity

45 Abnormal Posturing

46 Respirations Abnormal respiratory patterns

47 Pulse and Blood Pressure
Late sign of increased intracranial pressure Pulse slows. Blood pressure increases.

48 Epidural Hematoma Requires rapid recognition and early surgical intervention Usually presents with short period of unconsciousness after blunt trauma to head, followed by lucid interval, then decrease in LOC Blown pupil on side of injury Weakness and sensory impairment on opposite side of body Abnormal respiratory pattern Abnormal posturing Possible high blood pressure and slow pulse If left untreated, death occurs.

49 Epidural Hematoma

50 Subdural Hematoma

51 Brain Injury – Signs and Symptoms
Altered or decreasing mental status Confusion, disorientation, or repetitive questioning Best indicator of a brain injury Unresponsive Irregular breathing pattern Consideration of mechanism of injury Deformity of windshield Deformity of helmet

52 Brain Injury – Signs and Symptoms
Contusions, lacerations, hematomas to scalp Deformity to skull Blood or fluid leakage from ears and nose Bruising around eyes Bruising behind ears (mastoid process) Neurologic disability Nausea and/or vomiting Unequal pupil size with altered mental status Seizure activity may be seen

53 Open Head Injury – Signs and Symptoms
Bruising around eyes Bruising behind ears (mastoid process) Nausea and/or vomiting Brain injury Possible signs and symptoms of a closed head injury

54 Glasgow Coma Scale Objective assessment of mental status
Three parameters Eye opening Verbal response Motor ability

55 Eye Opening Scores 4 – Open spontaneously (no stimuli)
3 – Open to verbal stimuli 2 – Open to painful stimuli 1 – Do not open

56 Verbal Response Scores 5 – Alert and oriented
4 – Confused (attention can be maintained) 3 – Inappropriate (attention cannot be maintained) 2 – Incomprehensible sounds 1 – No response

57 Motor Ability Scores 6 – Obeys verbal commands
5 – Localized to pain (reaches to source of pain) 4 – Withdraws (rolls or moves from pain) 3 – Flexion (flexes arms to pain) 2 – Extension (extends arms to pain) 1 – No response to pain

58 Emergency Medical Care
Use personal protection measures. Suspect spinal injury; immobilize spine. Maintain airway/artificial ventilation/oxygenation. Perform initial assessment. Immobilization spine. Complete detailed physical examination en route.

59 Emergency Medical Care
Monitor Airway, breathing, pulse, and mental status Control bleeding. Do not apply pressure to open or depressed skull Dress and bandage open wound.

60 Emergency Medical Care
Nontraumatic injury Place patient on the left side. Be prepared for changes in patient’s condition. Transport immediately.

61 Cervical Spine Immobilization Devices – Indications
Any suspected injury to the spine, based on Mechanism of injury History Signs and symptoms Used in conjunction with short and long backboards.

62 Cervical Spine Immobilization Devices – Precaution
Cervical immobilization devices alone do not provide adequate inline immobilization. Maintain manual immobilization until the head is secured to the board.

63 Long Backboards Several different types of long board immobilization devices exist. Provide stabilization and immobilization to the head, neck and torso, pelvis, and extremities. Use to immobilize patients found in a lying, standing, or sitting position Use in conjunction with short backboards.

64 Rapid Extrication Unsafe scene Unstable patient condition
Patient blocking access to a seriously injured patient Based on Time Patient condition Not the EMT’s preference

65 Rapid Extrication Apply C-collar before move. Perform smoothly.
Coordination from lead person is key. Secure to long spine board after removal.

66 Helmet Removal – Special Assessment Needs
Ability to gain access to airway and breathing Fit of the helmet May prevent proper spinal immobilization Patient movement within the helmet

67 Indications for Leaving Helmet in Place
Fit of helmet is good with little or no movement of head. Helmet does not impede airway or cause breathing problems. Removal would cause further injury to the patient. Proper spinal immobilization could be performed with helmet in place. Helmet does not interfere with the ability to assess and reassess airway and breathing.

68 Indications for Helmet Removal
Inability to assess and/or reassess airway and breathing Restriction of adequate airway or breathing management Improperly fitted helmet Inability to perform proper spinal immobilization because of helmet Cardiac arrest

69 Types of Helmets Sports Motorcycle Typically open anteriorly
Easier access to airway Motorcycle Full face guard Shield Other

70 General Rules – Helmet Removal
Technique depends on type of helmet. Remove patient’s eyeglasses before removing the helmet.

71 Infants and Children Require same attention to spinal immobilization as adults Pad spine boards from the shoulders to the heels Accounts for larger head in proportion to rest of body If C-collar does not fit properly, use rolled towel and tape. Transport in car seat if assessment, treatment, and immobilization can be accomplished.

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