Update to Appropriate Care of the Spine Injured Athlete

July 1, 2015 by Todd Christman

By John Doherty, ATC, PT

There are roughly 33 incidents of non-fatal spinal cord injury (SCI) nationally each day. That translates to 12,000 cases per year. Most receive barely a mention in the local press. However, nearly all lead to some type of disability and many are entirely catastrophic, leaving victims with permanent paralysis.

Consequently, when a sport is involved -- which is only 7-9 percent of the time (68-69 percent are from car wrecks and accidental falls), headlines are generated.
If the injury happens during a televised event, the whole world ends up watching. The game is delayed; players kneel and hold hands; the crowd is deathly quiet. Meanwhile, athletic trainers, doctors and paramedics stabilize the athlete -- with gear still on, transferring them  to a spine board, a stretcher and eventually an ambulance. More often than not, the measures are precautionary and the athlete flashes a thumbs-up from amid all the straps, as he is wheeled from the field.

You can read the full version of this article in The Times. John Doherty is a licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at jdoherty@comhs.org. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.