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Imran Khan's injuries: How serious are they?

Imran Khan fracturesFormer cricketing legend and politician Imran Khan was recently injured when he fell off a forklift that was being used to lift him onto a raised platform, where he was scheduled to address a political rally in Lahore, Pakistan . The chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was all set to step into the final lap of the countries' elections.

Imran Khan, fell from a height of approximately 15 feet, and hit his head on an iron rod, which lead to a severe laceration on his forehead. His fall was broken by two of his bodyguards who were standing beside him when the lift started its ascend. He was then rushed to the nearest hospital for emergent treatment.

Doctors said that Imran Khan had suffered a broken cervical vertebrae (vertebrae of the neck) and two lumbar vertebrae (vertebrae of the back) along with a fractured rib when he fell. They also made it very clear that he had not sustained any serious head injuries as reported earlier. Expecting the worst, doctors expressed their awe when they found that the politician had sustained fairly manageable injuries even after such a severe fall. He has been advised complete bed rest to allow for complete recuperation.

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When a person falls from such a great height they can suffer from severe complications like-- broken vertebrae, fractured ribs, punctured lungs, a broken neck, severe injury to the skull which could lead to a skull fracture and internal hemorrhage of the brain, internal bleeding due to damaged organs, a broken femur or thigh bone (the femur is the strongest bone in the human body), a broken hip, puncture various internal organs due to bone shards puncturing them, the person might even get paralyzed if broken vertebrae cause damage to the spinal canal and spinal cord, and severe shock which can stop the heart leading to brain damage and death.

Vertebral SegmentIn the case of Imran Khan, even though he broke three vertebrae, the fall did not cause any damage to the spinal canal. The spinal canal is the space between the vertebrae through which the spinal cord travels from the base of the skull to the tail bone (bones at the base of the spinal cord, which ends just above the buttocks). The vertebrae are bony structures that form the backbone. Apart from other functions it also acts as a protective shield for the very delicate spinal cord. An injury to the spinal cord can lead to paralysis of either the entire body or partsof the body depending on the area of the spinal cord injury.

According to the media footage Imran Khan was carried away by supporters from the scene. In the case of such severe injuries, being carried away without any support to the back and neck can worsen the damage already caused by the fall. While their actions may have saved the politician's life, there are a few precautions one should take while dealing with such injuries.

Here are a few first aid tips in cases you encounter a situation like this:

If a person has fallen from a great height or has been grievously injured during an accident-- first call for an ambulance. Do not move the person unless it is absolutely necessary to save their life. If you have to move the person, do so by keeping their head and neck absolutely immobile. Try to lift the person using a stretcher or a stiff board. This board will help to move the person's entire body as one unit while allowing for minimum movement of his/her head and neck.

If the person is not moving, you may try performing CPR, but do not move the person's head back while doing so, instead open their jaw by placing two fingers on his/her chin and push down. This will help to open the airway and help the person breathe. Transport the person to the nearest hospital as fast as possible.

In the case of Imran Khan, it is truly heart warming to see that he is doing well and on his way to a quick recovery. We at Health.india.com wish the cricketing legend a speedy recovery.

Image courtesy: www.chiro.org

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