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Severe Cervical Injury Due to Break Dancing: A Case Report

Hang S Byun, MD; Eric L Cantos, MD; Pratap P Patel, MD


The most common cause of cervical injury is indirect trauma; ie, trauma to the head or trunk.1 Since the cervical spine is the most mobile segment of the spinal column, forming a bridge between the head and the rigid trunk, it is very vulnerable to injury. Among the more frequent causes are: automobile accidents, diving accidents, faUs and sports injuries.2 Dance injuries to the cervical spine are apparently rare.

Recently we encountered a case of serious cervical injury that occurred during break dancing and resulted in quadriplegia.

Case Report

A 24-year-old man was admitted to Queens Hospital Center for the evaluation of a neck injury. About two hours prior to admission, while break dancing with his brother, the patient landed on the top of his head. Apparently he was doing a back flip with the help of his brother; his brother held his hand in cradle manner, while the patient stepped on his brother's hands, flexed his knee and was boosted into the flip. Immediately after falling, he was unable to move any extremity, there was no loss of consciousness, and he denied a history of head or neck injury.

Examination revealed an awake, alert and oriented man of medium build. There was a scalp swelling on the vertex of the head measuring 5 cm in diameter. There were no visible external injuries on the anterior surface of the trunk or extremities. Cranial nerve function was nonrial. He was quadriplegic except for minimal movement in both biceps and triceps. Sensation to all modalities was absent below C-4 dermatome. There were no deep tendon reflexes except for a minimal right biceps jerk. Sphincter tone was absent.

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