Journal Issues Guides for Trainers on Spinal Injuries


 
 

Jack Kelly | | Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Editor's Note:Look for an upcoming JEMS article on treatment of athletes wearing helmets who have potential spinal cord injuries.

Though not common, a spinal injury can be devastating to an athlete.

Roughly 11,000 Americans suffer spinal cord injuries each year. Males are four times as likely as females to suffer spinal cord injuries. More than half (56 percent) of people who suffer spinal cord injuries are between the ages of 16 and 30.

The leading cause of spinal cord injuries is automobile accidents, 37 percent of the total. The second are muggings and other forms of violence (28 percent). Third is falls (21 percent), which plague chiefly the elderly. Fourth, at six percent, are sports accidents. But injuries on the playing field are the second largest cause of acute spinal injuries for Americans aged 30 or younger, says the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA).

"The athletic trainer is very often the first responder when an athlete goes down on the field," said Erik Swartz, the principal author of a paper published in the current issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, the scientific publication of the NATA. "Serious spinal injuries can be devastating, due to the high incidence of long term neurological impairment and premature death."

Football is the sport in which athletes are most likely to suffer acute spinal injuries. But skiers, rugby players, gymnasts, swimmers and divers, pole vaulters and even cheerleaders are at risk, the NATA said.

In order to reduce the likelihood of such injuries, and to avoid exacerbating those that have occurred, the paper in the Journal of Athletic Training lists seven guidelines for athletic trainers, coaches, athletes and spectators at sporting events to follow:

  1. Understand how cervical spine injuries occur and be fully aware of the imporance of avoiding contact with the head in any sport.
  2. Keep current on all pertinent safety rules enacted for the prevention of cervical spine injures.
  3. Properly maintain all sporting equipment, and wear and use equipment as intended by the manufacturer.
  4. The importance of a proper fit in equipment (especially in helmets) cannot be overstated.
  5. Immediate care by knowledgeable health care providers is critical to the successful treatment of an athlete with a spine injury.
  6. Ensure that an emergency action plan is in place and has been reviewed by all medical personnel, administrators, coaches and players, and
  7. Non-medical professionals should refrain from touching or moving an athlete who might have a spinal injury and should never remove any helmets, pads or other equipment from an injured athlete.

Jack Kelly can be reached atjkelly@post-gazette.comor 412-263-1476.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Head and Spinal Injuries, Special Patients

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Four Killed in New Mexico Medical Plane Crash

Crash near fairgrounds claims patient and crew of three.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Involved in Crash

Odessa ambulance and car collide during response.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Las Vegas Fire, AMR Reach New Deal

Tentative agreement reached over ambulance calls.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Fire Damages Several Homes in California Earthquake

Four homes destroyed and others damaged after quake rattles Napa.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

NTSB investigates crash that killed four.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.? Scranton

JEMS Editor-in-Chief visits his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Over 100 Injured in California Earthquake

172 patients treated at Napa hospital after 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >