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Cervical Spine Injuries in the Athlete

Schroeder, Gregory D. MD; Vaccaro, Alexander R. MD, PhD, MBA

JAAOS - Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: September 2016 - Volume 24 - Issue 9 - p e122–e133
doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-15-00716
Instructional Course Lecture

Cervical spine injuries are extremely common and range from relatively minor injuries, such as cervical muscle strains, to severe, life-threatening cervical fractures with spinal cord injuries. Although cervical spine injuries are most common in athletes who participate in contact and collision sports, such as American football and rugby, they also have been reported in athletes who participate in noncontact sports, such as baseball, gymnastics, and diving. Cervical spine injuries in athletes are not necessarily the result of substantial spine trauma; some athletes have chronic conditions, such as congenital stenosis, that increase their risk for a serious cervical spine injury after even minor trauma. Therefore, physicians who cover athletic events must have a thorough knowledge of cervical spine injures and the most appropriate ways in which they should be managed. Although cervical spine injuries can be career-ending injuries, athletes often are able to return to play after appropriate treatment if the potential for substantial re-injury is minimized.

From the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.

This article, as well as other lectures presented at the Academy’s Annual Meeting, will be available in March 2017 in Instructional Course Lectures, Volume 66.

Dr. Schroeder or an immediate family member has received research or institutional support from Medtronic; and has received nonincome support (such as equipment or services), commercially derived honoraria, or other non–research-related funding (such as paid travel) from AOSpine and Medtronic. Dr. Vaccaro or an immediate family member has received royalties from Aesculap/B. Braun, Globus Medical, Medtronic, and Stryker; serves as a paid consultant to or is an employee of DePuy, Ellipse Technologies, Gerson Lehrman Group, Globus Medical, Guidepoint Global, Innovative Surgical Designs, MEDAcorp, Medtronic, Orthobullets, Stout Medical, and Stryker; has stock or stock options held in Advanced Spinal Intellectual Property, Avaz Surgical, Bonovo Orthopaedics, Computational Biodynamics, Cytonics, Dimension Prosthetics and Orthotics, ElectroCore Medical, Flagship Surgical, Flow Pharma, Gamma Spine, Globus Medical, InVivo Therapeutics, Innovative Surgical Designs, Location Based Intelligence, Paradigm Spine, Prime Surgeons, Progressive Spinal Technologies, Replication Medical, the Rothman Institute and related properties, Spine Medica, Spinology, Stout Medical, and VertiFlex; and serves as a board member, owner, officer, or committee member of AOSpine, the Association for Collaborative Spine Research, Flagship Surgical, Innovative Surgical Designs, and Prime Surgeons.

Received December 14, 2015

Accepted May 12, 2016

© 2016 by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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