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Am J Sports Med. 1979 Mar-Apr;7(2):127-32.

National football head and neck injury registry: report on cervical quadriplegia, 1971 to 1975.


Data on cervical spine injuries resulting from participation in football have been compiled by a national registry established in 1975. Information has been collected retrospectively by defined criteria since 1971. Efforts have been made to establish the mechanism of injury responsible in the majority of instances on the basis of epidemiologic evidence and recognized biomechanical principles. During the 5-year period, 77 deaths resulted from severe neck injuries. During this period, 1,275,000 players were exposed. Ninety-nine cervical fracture-dislocations resulting in permanent quadriplegia and 259 cervical fractures-dislocations occurred. There may be a "trend" towards an increase in permanent quadriplegia resulting from serious cervical spine injuries sustained while playing football. Apparently, the cause can be attributed to the helmet-face mask that has encouraged the use of the head as the primary point of contact in blocking, tackling, and head butting. The figures clearly identify defensive backs, linebackers, or specialty team members making tackles by using the head as the initial point of contact, as the individuals at greatest risk to sustain cervical spine injuries resulting in permanent quadriplegia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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