Helmet and Shoulder Pad Removal in Football Players with Unstable Cervical Spine Injuries

M.C. Dahl, D. Ananthakrishnan, G. Nicandri, and R.P. Ching (USA)


Football, equipment removal, and cervical injury.


Football, one of the country’s most popular team sports, is associated with the largest overall number of sports related catastrophic cervical spine injuries in the United States.[1] Patient handling is often impaired due to the protective equipment worn and improper stabilization of these patients can exacerbate neurologic injury. Because of the lack of consensus on the best method for equipment removal, a study was performed comparing three techniques: full body levitation, upper torso tilt, and log roll. These techniques were performed on an intact and lesioned cervical spine cadaveric model simulating conditions in the emergency department. The levitation technique was found to produce motion in the anterior and right lateral directions. The tilt technique resulted in motions in the posterior left lateral directions, and the log roll technique generated motions in the right lateral direction and had the largest amount of increased instability when comparing the intact and lesioned specimen. These findings suggest that each method of equipment removal displays unique weaknesses that the practitioner should take into account, possibly on a patient by patient basis.

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