Skip Navigation LinksHome > January/February 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 1 > Return to Play After Cervical Spine Injury in Sports
Current Sports Medicine Reports:
doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31827dc1fb
Head, Neck, and Spine: Section Articles

Return to Play After Cervical Spine Injury in Sports

Cantu, Robert C. MD, FACS, FACSM1; Li, Yan Michael MD, PhD2; Abdulhamid, Mohamed MD2; Chin, Lawrence S. MD, FACS2

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Abstract

Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) resulting from sports now represent 8.9% of the total causes of SCI. Regardless of cause, there are bound to be return-to-play decisions to be made for athletes. Since catastrophic cervical spine injuries are among the most devastating injuries in all of sports, returning from a cervical spine injury is one of the most difficult decisions in sports medicine. Axial loading is the primary mechanism for catastrophic cervical spine injuries. Axial loading occurs as a result of intentional or unintentional head-down contact and spearing. Most would agree that the athlete returning to a contact or collision sport after a cervical spine injury must be asymptomatic, have full strength, and have full active range of motion; however, each situation is unique. The following review discusses the pathophysiology of these conditions and suggests guidelines for return to contact sports after traumatic cervical SCI.

© 2013 American College of Sports Medicine

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