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Spine Institute
Glendale Adventist Medical Center
1500 E. Chevy Chase Drive, Suite 401B
Glendale, CA 91206
Ph: (818) 863-4444

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Updated Criteria for Returning Players to Sport after Neck Injury

Posted on: 11/30/1999
Neck injuries are fairly common in sports such as football, rugby, skiing, boxing, and gymnastics. Most of these neck injuries aren't serious. But doctors are still concerned about injuries that affect the spinal cord. Such injuries include stingers (which cause a burning sensation down an arm) and temporary paralysis or weakness in two to four limbs. The worst symptoms usually go away within minutes, but pain and weakness can last for awhile.

Doctors can easily identify these injuries. But it is uncertain how quickly the athletes should return to their sports. Can they go right back to the game after the symptoms are gone? Or should they sit out the game and get some tests later? These authors looked at the research and existing standards. Then they wrote up their own conclusions about how to handle stingers and temporary paralysis or weakness in two to four limbs.

Their plan treats these neck injuries with caution and common sense. For those wanting specifics on how these injuries should be handled, this article is a must-read. The authors pull together today's information and combine their clinical experience to provide a detailed decision tree for how to handle these neck injuries.

Alexander R. Vaccaro, MD, et al. Return to Play Criteria for the Athlete with Cervical Spine Injuries Resulting in Stinger and Transient Quadriplegia/Paresis. In The Spine Journal. September/October 2002. Vol. 2. No. 5. Pp. 351-356.

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