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J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2006 Sep;50(3):195-208.

Sports related concussion and spinal injuries: the need for changing spearing rules at the National Capital Amateur Football Association (NCAFA).



Returning an athlete to play following a spinal or concussive injury remains a challenge for the health practitioner making the decision. Among the possible mechanisms responsible for such injuries in amateur football, the concept of "spearing" has attracted a great deal of attention in sport medicine.


The purpose of this paper is to present a review of the diagnosis and treatment of the potentially catastrophic neck and head injuries caused by spearing in Canadian amateur football and to suggest the role the chiropractic profession can have in their prevention. It proposes to follow the recommendations advocated by the National Capital Amateur Football Association (NCAFA) athletic trainers group, led by a chiropractor.


Information regarding the concepts and prevention of "spearing", concussion and spinal injuries at the amateur football level in both the United States and Canada was obtained using the following computerized search methods: PubMed - MeSH (via the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); The Index to Chiropractic Literature (ICL); Google Scholar Beta. Recent (2005) information on sports related spinal injuries and concussion were obtained by attendance at the 2005 Sports Related Concussion and Spine Injury Conference. Foxborough, Massachusetts. From a total of 698 references, 63 were retained.


Literature search yields very little information regarding Canadian statistics for amateur football neck and head injuries. The author encourages such injury data collecting and proposes that original Canadian studies and statistical analyses be carried out, such as those from diverse sports groups in the United States and abroad.1, 2, 3 The NCAFA group of trainers recommends a changing of the rules for "spearing" within the league and advocates gathering of Canadian based sports injury statistics. It also recognizes the need for public presentations (of concussion/spinal injuries).5 This paper describes the different interpretations of spearing rules at American and Canadian football associations, both at the amateur and professional levels; it further shows that injury prevention in sports is an absolute necessity and that the chiropractic profession should play a role in its application. It is suggested that chiropractors, who often attend to athletes who sustained sport related neck and head injuries, ought to contribute in their prevention and treatment.


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