Cervical Fractures in Toddlers

Cervical Fractures in Toddlers

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney. The spine is one of the most important parts of the body and contains numerous nerves that control motor and sensory function for the arms, legs, and every organ. Because of this damage to the spine, particularly in children, has the potential to be devastating. For this reason, cervical fractures in toddlers are severe and a recent review article was published discussing these injuries.

Mechanisms of Cervical Fractures in Toddlers

Any kind of bone fracture in a toddler is concerning; however, there are certain types of traumatic injuries that are more common than others. Toddlers are clumsy as they are learning how to walk, run, and explore their boundaries. They often fall, making certain scrapes and bruises more common, such as those on the knees; however, fractures of the vertebrae in the spine are incredibly concerning because of their proximity to the spinal cord nerves and their potential to cause lifelong consequences. Mechanisms of damage to the vertebrae include:

Falls: If a toddler takes a tumble out of a window, particularly if it isn’t the first story, they can suffer compression fractures of the spinal vertebrae as a result.

Abuse: Unfortunately, child abuse is a reality and can be more common than people realize. Spiral femur fractures and retinal hemorrhages are pathognomonic for child abuse; however, fractures in any of the vertebrae in the spine is also a signal for this.

Auto Accidents: Auto accidents are some of the most common ways that toddlers can wind up with a cervical fracture. Often, this is the result of improper placement of the car seat. These injuries can be serious, as a case report recently showed.

A Case Report: A Serious Car Accident

A mother of three kids was recently driving down a city street when they were involved in a serious auto accident that was published in the medical literature. As she was driving down the street, a garbage truck pulled out in front of her. As the truck pulled out, she collided with the rear of the garbage truck. Her toddler, in a car seat next to her, was thrown forward by the force of the collision. His head collided with the dashboard, leading to a contusion on the top of his skull. When emergency medical services arrived, the providers thought that he was having trouble moving his neck. He was transported to the nearest hospital for further evaluation. There, he received a CT scan which showed small fractures in two different vertebrae. A thorough neurological exam was conducted to ensure that the child did not have any damage to the nerves leaving his spine in that region. Eventually, the child made a full recovery from his cervical fractures after having his neck immobilized.

Prevention of this Injury

Because of the devastation that this injury can cause, it is vital for parents and caregivers to take every step possible to try and prevent cervical fractures from occurring. First, parents need to know the proper position for their toddler to sit in the car. Toddlers and children should be kept in car seats until they reach the proper size to graduate to a booster seat and then a regular seat. Ideally, the car seat should be rear facing until age two and should be in the back of the car. Furthermore, every parent should make sure that the car seat is buckled into place to prevent it from flying away in the event of a car accident.

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Image Source: The image at the top was found first on Unsplash and has been shown here with permission

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