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J Spinal Cord Med. 2010;33(2):163-7.

Cervical fracture with transient tetraplegia in a youth football player: case report and review of the literature.

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University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 665, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



Serious cervical spinal injuries in organized youth football are rare. Cervical fracture with neurologic injury is rarely reported in organized youth football players with no pre-existing risk fractures for transient tetraplegia.


Case report and literature review.


After being improperly tackled by an opponent of significantly larger body size, a player sustained a C7 posterior cervical fracture with transient tetraplegia. He was immobilized in a cervical collar and sent to a level 1 trauma center for evaluation. Initial examination showed bilateral paresthesia of the limbs with normal motor function (ASIA D). Initial radiographs of the cervical spine showed a displaced extension-compression fracture of the C7 spinous process. Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine showed edema in the spinal cord in the region of the injury along with significant posterior injury. Imaging studies showed normal volumetric measurements of the spinal canal and no pre-existing risk factors for spinal stenosis or spinal cord injury. Radiographs showed that cervical fracture was healed at 9-month follow-up examination. At 1-year follow-up, the patient was asymptomatic. Radiographs showed healed fracture with no residual instability and full range of cervical spine motion on flexion-extension views.


This case underscores the potential for serious cervical spinal injuries in organized youth sports when players are physically overmatched, and improper tackling technique is used.

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