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Physical Exams and Tests Key to Determining Damage Caused by Spinal Injuries


Being involved in a trauma where an individual’s head or back is hurt is a scary experience. A doctor is going to want to rule out any spinal injuries. A doctor will need to do some physical exams and run various tests to determine if you have fractured thoracic vertebrae.

During the physical exam, a doctor will look for several different changes in the individual’s body. The exam will probably start with a thoroughly check of the back to determine if there are any deformities to a vertebral bodies or to the skin of the back. Simply looking at the back will tell the doctor much of the information he or she needs to know. Depending on the trauma, the back could have cuts, bruises, or deformities. In order to determine if there is any affected vertebra, a doctor will use his or her hands to see if the bones have shifted.

Not only will the back have bruises or deformities, but also the check of the individual could have an indication from the shoulder harness or lap seatbelt if involved in a car accident. Damage to the thoracic spine can cause paralysis and the doctor will try to determine the extent of the paralysis. Many times the individual may experience trouble moving different limbs; the most common problem is moving his or her legs. Other physical exams will include checking for pain, numbness, and sensations in the body that are not natural. Spinal cord injuries are also common with fractured vertebra so the doctor will test neurological functions. Expect tests of the body’s reflexes, range of motion, and sensitivity to touch.

The doctor may also need to run tests to determine the level of damage to the thoracic spine. If the examination suggests there is a fractured vertebra, the doctor will order an x-ray. CT scan and MRI may also help the doctor establish the severity of the injury. A completed CT myelogram will determine if any bone fragments has caused any harm. Routine lab tests along with a CBC with hematocrit and hemoglobin will be used to determine if there is any internal bleeding or stored in case any other tests will need to be conducted in the future. Urinary tests may need to be done to correct bodily functions. Doctors in Long Island and Staten Island are studying this case.

During this transitional period with you or your loved one, let a New York Spinal Injury Attorney walk with you to ensure your doctors are doing everything they can to make you well. If you believe your doctors made a mistake with a test or a diagnosis, consult a New York Spinal Injury Attorney to talk over your case.

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