Original Research 

Motion Created in an Unstable Cervical Spine During the Removal of a Football Helmet: Comparison of Techniques

Dewayne N. DuBose, PhD, LAT, ATC, NCPT; Sean Connolly, BS; Brian Hatzel, PhD, AT, ATC; Laura Ann Zdziarski, BS, LAT, ATC; Gianluca Del Rossi, PhD, LAT, ATC; Ira Hill, PhD; Mark Prasarn, MD; Glenn Rechtine, MD; MaryBeth Horodyski, EdD, LAT, ATC, FNATA

Abstract

Helmet removal is necessary to maintain airway access in a suspected cervical spine injury. The aim of this investigation was to determine which of two football helmet removal techniques minimized angular and translational displacement in a suspected cervical injury. This repeated measures study used five fresh cadaveric specimens. An electromagnetic device measured angular (degrees) and translational (millimeters) displacements at an unstable C5–C6 segment. The removal techniques were facemask removal and then helmet removal (FMH) and direct helmet removal (Helmet). The authors found that the FMH technique resulted in significantly less flexion-extension (P = .023) and axial rotation (P = .023) than the Helmet technique. FMH caused significantly less anterior-posterior (P = .035), medial-lateral (P = .013), and axial (P = .028) translations than the Helmet technique. The FMH technique created significantly less motion than the Helmet technique in this helmet model. Future research on different helmet models may confirm that the FMH technique minimizes the potential for secondary injury. [Athletic Training & Sports Health Care. 2015;7(6):242–247.]

Authors

From the University Athletic Association (DND), College of Medicine (SC), College of Engineering (IH), and Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation (LAZ, MH), University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida; Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan (BH); the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida (GD, GR); and the Department of Orthopaedics, University of Houston, Houston, Texas (MP).

Supported in part by the Southwestern Medical Foundation.

The authors have no financial or proprietary interest in the materials presented herein.

Correspondence: Dewayne N. DuBose, PhD, LAT, ATC, NCPT, 1115 NW 40th Drive, Gainesville, FL 32605. E-mail: dubosdn@ortho.ufl.edu

Received: May 17, 2015
Accepted: August 17, 2015

10.3928/19425864-20151029-05

Helmet removal is necessary to maintain airway access in a suspected cervical spine injury. The aim of this investigation was to determine which of two football helmet removal techniques minimized angular and translational displacement in a suspected cervical injury. This repeated measures study used five fresh cadaveric specimens. An electromagnetic device measured angular (degrees) and translational (millimeters) displacements at an unstable C5–C6 segment. The removal techniques were facemask removal and then helmet removal (FMH) and direct helmet removal (Helmet). The authors found that the FMH technique resulted in significantly less flexion-extension (P = .023) and axial rotation (P = .023) than the Helmet technique. FMH caused significantly less anterior-posterior (P = .035), medial-lateral (P = .013), and axial (P = .028) translations than the Helmet technique. The FMH technique created significantly less motion than the Helmet technique in this helmet model. Future research on different helmet models may confirm that the FMH technique minimizes the potential for secondary injury. [Athletic Training & Sports Health Care. 2015;7(6):242–247.]

From the University Athletic Association (DND), College of Medicine (SC), College of Engineering (IH), and Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation (LAZ, MH), University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida; Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan (BH); the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida (GD, GR); and the Department of Orthopaedics, University of Houston, Houston, Texas (MP).

Supported in part by the Southwestern Medical Foundation.

The authors have no financial or proprietary interest in the materials presented herein.

Correspondence: Dewayne N. DuBose, PhD, LAT, ATC, NCPT, 1115 NW 40th Drive, Gainesville, FL 32605. E-mail: dubosdn@ortho.ufl.edu

Received: May 17, 2015
Accepted: August 17, 2015
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