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Treatment of spinal injury in the National Football League (NFL)
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An American football fan has developed research that could improve the National Football League’s handling of spinal injury.
Brad Jacobson is a great fan of the American National Football League (NFL). Over the last two years he has channelled his love for the sport into research on spinal injuries. Unfortunately, the physical demands of participating in the NFL carry a risk of spinal cord injury. Statistics show that the sport gave rise to 987 cervical spine injuries between 2000 and 2010. Data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in America shows that sports injuries make up about 7.6% of the 12,000 spinal cord injuries reported each year.
Brad Jacobson, together with his co-researcher Mike Cendoma, have looked carefully at ways that the NFL medics can improve their handling of spinal injuries to improve players’ long term outcome. Their research has showed that the best way to stabilise the spine when spinal injury is suspected, is by placing a towel beneath the footballer’s head after removing their helmet. This is contrary to the current protocol advocated by the NFL whereby both the helmet and shoulder pads are removed.
Mr Jacobson and his team have been demonstrating their method, knows as the ‘pack and fill technique’, at NFL training camps in the hope that it will be adopted as formal protocol.
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