Pediatric Spinal Trauma

Pediatric Spinal Trauma

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Summary

Spinal trauma is a leading cause of permanent disability and death in children.

Expanded overview

The spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae. The spinal cord runs through a canal in the center of the vertebrae. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that bring messages from the brain to all areas of the body that control movement and sensation.

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is when a traumatic injury bruises, partially tears or completely tears the spinal cord.

Causes

The most common spinal cord injuries in children occur when the spine or neck is bent or compressed, as in the following:

  • Birth injuries, typically affecting the spinal cord in the neck area
  • Diving accidents
  • Falls
  • Infection that causes an abscess on the spinal cord
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Trampoline accidents
  • Violence (gunshot or stab wounds)

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of spinal trauma vary based on where the injury occurred, and can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty controlling the bladder and bowels
  • Difficulty controlling the legs
  • Loss or decrease of feeling, muscle movement and reflexes
  • Muscle weakness

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