THE SPINE: The back is made up of bones, muscles and other tissues that compose the body's trunk, from the neck to the pelvis. The spinal column is the centerpiece. It supports the upper body's weight and houses the spinal cord, which carries the signals that control movement and convey sensations. The spinal column is made up of more than 30 bones, called vertebrae, stacked on top of one another. Each contains a round hole, which line up to create a channel. Small nerves, called roots, enter and emerge from the spinal cord through spaces between the vertebrae. The spaces are protected by round, spongy pads of cartilage called intervertebral discs; these enable some flexibility in the lower back and serve as shock absorbers to cushion the bones as the body moves. The entire network is held in place by bands of tissue called ligaments and tendons. Damage to these disks and the spinal cord can occur because of impacts like car accidents, disease, or over time as a result of general wear and tear.
A RESCUE OPTION FOR SPINAL INJURIES IN RIVERS: The Hydrospine is a rigid frame designed for use in water rescue situations, especially in fast-moving rivers. It is made from structural foam, a neoprene liner, nylon straps, buoyant buckles, and buoyant foam. It is intended to replace the metal framed harnesses currently used by rescue workers to stabilize accident victims with possible spinal injuries. The metal-free frame allows doctors to perform MRI and other scans at the hospital without removing the patient from the protection of the brace. The brace is designed to right itself if tipped upside down in the water, protecting the victim from drowning.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.