New spine injury guidelines for treating athletes — 5 things to know

Orthopedic Sports Medicine

The National Athletic Trainers' Association released new guidelines for treating athletes with potential spinal cord injuries. The guidelines would allow sports medicine physicians to treat athletes on the field, according to Baylor College of Medicine.

Here are five notes:


1. The guidelines apply to a small subset of injuries that happen at sporting events. They allow athletes to receive necessary care for potentially devastating injuries.


2. Previously, logrolling was used to position the injured athlete onto a back board for transfer. Protective equipment was also used including helmet and shoulder pads because medical experts believed the equipment provided much needed stability.


3. The new recommendations were devised based off of studies that evaluated spinal motion during simulated injuries in cadavers. The studies found an eight-person lift better reduces the motion of the cervical spine. Therefore, the guidelines advocate for physicians to use this lift if possible rather than logrolling.


4. The guidelines emphasize a change in terminology from "spinal immobilization" to "spinal motion restriction." The change reflects the reality that complete immobilization is impossible during transfers and equipment removal.


5. Additionally, the guidelines recommend safe, controlled removal of equipment including shoulder pads and helmets of the injured athlete before he/she is transferred.


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