New Recommendations For On-Field Treatment Of Neck Injuries

Mar 26 2008 - 12:35pm

Most of us have witnessed it in person or on television - a football player lying injured on the field as emergency medics prepare to lift him onto a stretcher. When the player is an adult and thought to have a neck injury, the emergency on-field treatment policy is clear: leave his helmet and shoulder pads in place during on-field stabilization and transport. However, guidelines have been less certain for handling young athletes in the same situation, and EMTs have had the option to remove helmets that appear too large. New research from the University of Virginia Health System suggests that removing equipment may place young athletes at risk for further injury.

"Our findings make it clear that EMTs should leave in place a child's helmet and shoulder pads, unless the child has a breathing problem that can't be handled by facemask removal alone. Equipment should only be removed in the Emergency Department by a team of specialists," explains David Diduch, MD,

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