Best Practices and Current Care Concepts in Prehospital Care of the Spine-Injured Athlete in American Tackle Football March 2-3, 2019; Atlanta, GA

J Athl Train. 2020 Jun 23;55(6):545-562. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-430-19.


Sport-related spine injury can be devastating and have long-lasting effects on athletes and their families. Providing evidence-based care for patients with spine injury is essential for optimizing postinjury outcomes. When caring for an injured athlete in American tackle football, clinicians must make decisions that involve unique challenges related to protective equipment (eg, helmet and shoulder pads). The Spine Injury in Sport Group (SISG) met in Atlanta, Georgia, March 2-3, 2019, and involved 25 health care professionals with expertise in emergency medicine, sports medicine, neurologic surgery, orthopaedic surgery, neurology, physiatry, athletic training, and research to review the current literature and discuss evidence-based medicine, best practices, and care options available for the prehospital treatment of athletes with suspected cervical spine injuries.1,2 That meeting and the subsequent Mills et al publication delineate the quality and quantity of published evidence regarding many aspects of prehospital care for the athlete with a suspected cervical spine injury. This paper offers a practical treatment guide based on the experience of those who attended the Atlanta meeting as well as the evidence presented in the Mills et al article. Ongoing research will help to further advance clinical treatment recommendations.

Keywords: collision athletes; emergency medicine; spinal-motion restriction; spine injury; sports.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries* / therapy
  • Benchmarking
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries
  • Emergency Medical Services* / methods
  • Emergency Medical Services* / organization & administration
  • First Aid* / methods
  • First Aid* / standards
  • Football / injuries*
  • Georgia
  • Humans
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration
  • Spinal Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Spinal Injuries* / therapy
  • Sports Medicine / standards
  • Transportation of Patients* / methods
  • Transportation of Patients* / standards
  • United States