Management of acute subaxial trauma and spinal cord injury in professional collision athletes

Parthik D. Patel, Srikanth N Divi, Jose A. Canseco*, Chester J. Donnally, Matthew Galetta, Alexander Vaccaro, Gregory D. Schroeder, Wellington K. Hsu, Andrew C. Hecht, Andrew B. Dossett, Arsh S. Dhanota, Srivinas K. Prasad, Alexander R. Vaccaro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sports-related acute cervical trauma and spinal cord injury (SCI) represent a rare but devastating potential complication of collision sport injuries. Currently, there is debate on appropriate management protocols and return-to-play guidelines in professional collision athletes following cervical trauma. While cervical muscle strains and sprains are among the most common injuries sustained by collision athletes, the life-changing effects of severe neurological sequelae (ie, quadriplegia and paraplegia) from fractures and SCIs require increased attention and care. Appropriate on-field management and subsequent transfer/workup at an experienced trauma/SCI center is necessary for optimal patient care, prevention of injury exacerbation, and improvement in outcomes. This review discusses the epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, immediate/long-term management, and current return-to-play recommendations of athletes who suffer cervical trauma and SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical spine surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • acute cervical trauma
  • return-to-play
  • spinal cord injury
  • sport injuries
  • team physician

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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