Orthopaedic Sports Medicine
Reassess airway and breathing and begin rescue breathing, if necessary. Mismanagement of a player with an unstable spinal cord injury can result in permanent neurologic deficits. Any athlete who is rendered unconscious or sustains an injury to the neck should be treated as though they have significant spinal cord injury until proven otherwise. An injured players helmet should always be left in place until he has been properly immobilized. Helmet removal is not usually necessary for rescue breathing. If the player is unconscious, roll him into the supine position (stabilize all segments of the spine), and remove the mouthpiece. If no breathing is detected, only the face mask of the helmet must be removed to facilitate rescue breathing.3
- Remove the mouthpiece (if present) and face mask only, leaving the helmet in place.
3. Torg JS. Management guidelines for participation in collision activities with congenital developmental, or post-injury lesions involving the cervical spine. Clin Sports Med 1997;16:501-30.
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