Sports Related Spinal Cord Injuries
It is no secret that being involved in sports carries with it the risk of injury. Although a great number of these injuries are either superficial or fully-recoverable, sports injuries can result in irreparable damages.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), the estimated number of people with a spinal cord injury living in the United States is 291,000 persons. Of those 291,000, eight percent of those injuries were sports injuries.
Top Sports Contributing to SPI
All sports are capable of causing life-changing injuries, however there are some sports that carry a greater risk of SCI than others. Diving is the leading cause of spinal cord injury, accounting for 64% of all sports-related spinal cord injuries in the United States. This is followed by Winter Sports, Surfing, Snow Skiing, Horseback Riding,Football, and Rugby.
In most of these sports, trauma to the cervical spine (head to the neck region) is the common cause for injury. Cervical injuries are the most severe form of spinal cord injury, as it affects everything in the body from the level of injury, in this case the neck, down. These injuries are caused by head-down positional movements that are met with impact, seen when a diver breaks through the surface of water or when a lineman in football tackles another player.
Sports activities, such as horseback riding and snowboarding, are found to be a great risk for thoracic or lumbosacral spinal cord injuries. These are injuries affecting the middle of the spine or the lower spine respectively and are seen when athletes fall from a significant height.
Understanding the causes of sports-related spinal cord injuries are important to developing new protocols to help prevent this level of injury in the future.The NFL for example, has continually made changes to their tackling rules over the years, changing the position that players are allowed to tackle, to increase the safety measures for the players and decrease the number of concussions and SCI.
It’s important to remember to take necessary precautions when engaging in any kind of sports-related activity, especially those that carry a high risk of more serious injury.
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