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J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2019 Mar;49(3):202-208. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2019.8582. Epub 2019 Jan 15.

The Potential Role of the Cervical Spine in Sports-Related Concussion: Clinical Perspectives and Considerations for Risk Reduction.


Sports-related concussion (SRC) occurs due to biomechanical forces to the head or neck that can result in pathophysiological changes in the brain. The musculature of the cervical spine has been identified as one potential factor in reducing SRC risk as well as for underlying sex differences in SRC rates. Recent research has demonstrated that linear and rotational head acceleration, as well as the magnitude of force upon impact, is influenced by cervical spine biomechanics. Increased neck strength and girth are associated with reduced linear and rotational head acceleration during impact. Past work has also shown that overall neck strength and girth are reduced in athletes with SRC. Additionally, differences in cervical spine biomechanics are hypothesized as a critical factor underlying sex differences in SRC rates. Specifically, compared to males, females tend to have less neck strength and girth, which are associated with increased linear and rotational head acceleration. Although our ability to detect SRC has greatly improved, our ability to prevent SRC from occurring and decrease the severity of clinical outcomes postinjury is limited. However, we suggest, along with others, that cervical spine biomechanics may be a modifiable factor in reducing SRC risk. In this commentary, we review the role of the cervical spine in reducing SRC risk, and how this risk differs by sex. We discuss clinical considerations for the examination of the cervical spine and the potential clinical relevance for SRC prevention. Additionally, we provide suggestions for future research examining cervical spine properties as modifiable factors in reducing SRC risk. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2019;49(3):202-208. Epub 15 Jan 2019. doi:10.2519/jospt.2019.8582.


head injury; mild traumatic brain injury; neck


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