A 25-year-old patient was admitted with an injury resulting in a complete C7 transection of the spinal cord. Which action should the nurse anticipate the need for in the immediate post-injury period?

Ventilatory support


• Cervical injuries between C5–C8 are likely to produce paralysis, weakness, or spasticity of the muscles used to perform respiration.  Though neural control remains, in patients with quadriplegia (paralysis involving all four extremities), respiratory function is compromised, and edema above the area of the lesion may still cause respiratory depression or arrest in the first few days following the injury.

• The need for possible ventilatory support must be included in the care plan in the first few days following these injuries.

• Spinal cord injuries commonly occur among young adult males between 15 and 25 years old due to motor vehicular accidents, diving in shallow water, or sports injuries.

• Quadriplegia can occur in cervical injuries involving C1-C8, and respiratory paralysis occurs from injuries affecting C1-C4.

• Incorrect: Bladder and bowel training usually takes place when the patient is in the rehabilitation phase and not the immediate post-injury period.

• Incorrect: Autonomic dysreflexia is a complication occurring in thoracic lesions above T6 that involves dangerously high blood pressure. 

• Incorrect: A patient with a C7 injury does not need a diaphragmatic pacer.

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