Are you ever watching a sporting event and wondered why sometimes athletes walk away from a hit while others are transported under full spinal protocol? Well, Certified Athletic Therapists are making those important decisions every day in Alberta – that’s why we are experts at on-field assessment and emergency care! We also have a little help from something called the Canadian C-Spine Rule.
What is the Canadian C-Spine Rule?
First developed by Dr. Ian Stiell in Ottawa over 20 years ago, it was originally developed to help guide imaging decisions for suspected cervical spinal injury patients in emergency rooms. It has since been modified to help on-field professionals like Athletic Therapists.
When do we use the Rule?
When an athlete is injured on-field we take care to protect their spinal cord and often the first step is Spinal Motion Restriction (SMR) (this is when the athlete’s head is held motionless). Once we have determined what happened and how the athlete is faring, we may choose to “rule out” a cervical spine injury.
How does it work?
If the athlete is between 16-65 years of age, alert, with no acute paralysis, no vertebral disease or previous C-spine surgery then we can attempt to use the Rule.
After asking a series of questions and completing a short physical examination the Athletic Therapist will guide the athlete to move their head within a safe range of motion. If this action does not cause the onset of pain or neurological symptoms, then there is high confidence that there is no underlying cervical spine injury.
When in doubt…
Athletic Therapists are specially trained to react to those injuries that come along with the falls and hits in sports and this includes that precious spinal cord of yours! We always take your health seriously and rest assured, you’re in good hands!