Crate Challenge: Be prepared before you start

CRATE CHALLENGE: BE PREPARED BEFORE YOU START

REASONS YOU SHOULD BE PREPARED

One of the reasons falls down the crate can be so gravely injurious, and even fatal, is that when people lose their balance—on a poorly maintained surface, for example—and fall backward on a downward slope with hard angles, they impact in positions that target the head and spine. Any major impact to the head can cause serious, long-term injury. This is also true of blows to the spine, especially those that breach the spinal column and affect the spinal cord. These injuries can result in pain and suffering, long-term disability, and loss of the ability to work.

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5 Common Head and Spine Injuries Caused by Falls from crate challenge

1. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A hard impact from crates to the head can cause coma, hemorrhages or swelling in the brain, amnesia, and more. After this type of injury, there may be long-term issues with mobility, memory, cognition, and behavior that require long-term rehabilitation.

2Spinal Cord Injury or Cut. A complete injury of the spinal cord means that the spinal cord has been severed, and this results in paralysis from the point of the injury downward. A complete injury of the spinal cord in the cervical (neck) region may also disrupt automatic functions such as breathing, such that a person with this type of injury would require a breathing tube. An incomplete injury to the spinal cord is a more superficial cut, which means that the injured person might retain more sensation and motor function and could improve with rehabilitation.

3. Broken Spine. Recovery from breaks to any part of the spine from crate challenge can be arduous and painful. Injured people with clean breaks may be allowed to let the bones heal on their own, keeping the area immobilized using a cervical or back brace. When the broken bone is shattered or not healing properly, spinal fusion surgery is usually performed. This is a complex procedure that involves reinforcing the spine with titanium and/or bone grafts. Whether surgery is required or not, people with spinal breaks face months, if not years of rehabilitation.

4. Compression of Discs and Slipped Discs. Stairway falls can cause trauma to the walls of spinal discs, causing them to painfully compress or bulge (“slip”). This can lead to severe pain, numbness, and muscle weakness, not just localized at the point of trauma but radiating to the arms and legs as well. Disc surgery and/or extensive physical therapy are the usual outcomes of this type of injury.

5. Nerve Damage. Nerve damage from a sudden trauma like falling down the crate can be much subtler to diagnose than a broken bone. Still, the effects of nerve trauma can be devastating. People  with this injury can have pain, numbness, tingling, burning, crushing headaches, reduced motor function, unusual clumsiness, and more. Nerve damage can be difficult to treat and long rehabilitation periods are often involved.

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Cervical Spinal Cord Injury Recovery and Prognosis

Spinal cord injury prognosis varies depending on the severity of the injury. After swelling in the spinal cord decreases and any necessary surgery is performed, patients can stabilize and begin the recovery process.

  • Recovery will focus on stabilization of the injured area of the spinal cord, but most injuries are permanent.
  • Steroid and anti-inflammatory drugs administered shortly after injury, such as methylprednisolone, can help reduce swelling, which is a common cause of secondary damage at the time of injury.
  • Rehabilitation often will focus on learning to use the non-paralyzed portions of the body to regain varying levels of autonomy.
  • Many people who experience a cervical spinal cord injury will require permanent, 24-hour care for the remainder of their lives.
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