Researchers from University of Rochester Medical Center, University of Florida, and University of South Florida, are using small electro-magnetic sensors, attached to injured persons, to study and prevent possible spinal cord damage when being moved by a medical team.
Electromagnetic tracking devices, which work similar to GPS technology, can measure movement down to fractions of a millimeter, about the width of a piece of construction paper. By placing three to five of these tiny devices on the upper body of a cadaver, researchers were able to precisely measure how much an injured cervical spine moves at several important points in the process of removing a player from the field including taking off a helmet, putting on a cervical collar, and placing a player on the backboard for transportation to the ambulance.
The data was then analyzed to pinpoint which removal method produced the least amount of cervical spine movement, including the neck’s rotation, flexion and lateral bending. The team’s findings have been published in several journals, such as Spine, the Journal of Trauma and the Journal of Neurosurgery Spine. In the near future, a manuscript will appear in the Journal of Athletic Training showing that a modified “Lift and Slide” method appears to produce the least amount of movement to an injured cervical spine.
“While we strive to obtain zero movement, as that is what is best to help prevent further injury to the area, we know that is not possible,” Rechtine said [Glenn Rechtine, M.D., professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and president of the American Spinal Injury Association -ed]. “Now, we have scientific evidence to guide us in knowing which method is the best when working with these injured players.”
Themost common methods for moving players off the field currently are:
Log Roll: Where a player is gently rolled onto his/her side and the board is placed under the body. Lift and Slide: Where one person holds the player’s head, and three people straddle the body, and together they all lift the player while a fifth person slides a board under the player. Modified Lift and Slide: Similar to the Lift and Slide, but uses extra people to lift the player, and holds the head a specific way
Rechtine’s research shows that the last method, the Modified Lift and Slide, produces the least movement to an injured cervical spine.
More from U of Rochester Medical Center’s Press Release: GPS-Like Technology Helps Pinpoint Best Methods for Removing Injured Players from the Field