The more awareness the better when it comes to preventing sport-related injuries. This is why a number of groups want better education for students, parents and coaches regarding injuries to the cervical spine. While rare, these are the types of injuries that can lead to paralysis or death.
Over the summer we posted the story about a high school football player whose third vertebrae was fractured during a scrimmage. He ended up dying from his injuries. Cases like this one are why some advocates are saying more needs to be done.
Overall, cervical spine injuries are less common than concussions among high school and college athletes. However, while not as common, these types of injuries can turn into fatalities rather quickly, especially if an uninformed coach, teammate or family member from the field attempts to move an injured athlete.
Erik Swartz, who is an athletic trainer who co-wrote recommendations in 2009 on how to handle cervical spine injuries among athletes, said moving the hurt athlete poses the highest risk.
Take for example the case of the high school student who collided with another player during a lacrosse game. While a teammate did run to his side, this teammate did not make any attempts to move him. The player was severely injured, with a fracture in his spine and a damaged artery. However, after months of rehabilitation and physical therapy, the former lacrosse player is now a university student. While he will not be playing contact sports again, he is still alive and sustained no cognitive damage. Had his teammate moved him though, the situation could have ended very differently.
Of course though, not all stories have the same kind of happy ending. This is why there is such a push for more education in order to prevent paralysis and fatalities.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “What Kids Should Know About Spinal Injuries in Sports,” Laura Landro, Sept. 16, 2013