The Care and Management of Cervical Spine Injuries in Football

Type of Culminating Activity

Graduate Student Project

Graduation Date


Degree Title

Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies



Major Advisor

Ronald P. Pfeiffer


The frequency of cervical spine injuries (CSI) has declined over the last eight years. However, the enforcement of rules and regulations established by the NCAA to prevent CSI injuries seems to be lacking by game officials. The care and management of the CSI patient in football is critical due to its potential threat to life. At present, there are discrepancies in CSI emergency protocols between athletic trainers and emergency medical technicians. Most of the debate stems from the issue of helmet removal in the initial management of the CSI patient. The uniqueness of football equipment makes the care and management challenging and different from any other protocol. Most of the tools available for instructional use of these procedures are rare and incomplete. It has been determined that the helmet and shoulder pads should remain in place while the athlete is on the field unless CSI immobilization is impossible and CPR is not effective through the shoulder pads. The videotape was selected as the method of instruction since it provides demonstration of the whole skill. It is equally important that communication be established between athletic trainers and EMTs for efficient CSI management to take place.

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