Spine injuries in football are extremely common in young athletes. Football appeals to our ancient need to engage in contests. Unfortunately, the high-velocity tackles exerted with player-to-player, and player-to-ground contact often results in frequent and grave injuries. Cervical spine injuries are a serious consequence of playing the game.
American football has the highest incidence of spine injury among all sports, with cervical injuries being the most common. Research studies estimate that 15% of players suffer cervical spine injuries. The same studies link the offense and defensive lineman and linebackers to the higher side of the risk spectrum.
The symptoms of a cervical spine injury often mimic a less severe problem. Many severe cervical injuries result from the application of force to the straight spine and the direction of force application. Spear tackling, a technique where one player tackles another leading with his head, has been outlawed because of its high association with cervical spine trauma.
There has been a decrease in incidences of cervical spine injuries, thanks to rule changes over the last four decades. Coaches and athletes also have a higher awareness of the injury risks.
Following these guidelines will help prevent a cervical spine injury:
When a player has suspects they have a cervical spine injury, a complete neurological exam will take place on the field or sideline. A backboard and additional emergency medical equipment are essential to prepare the player for transportation to a medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.