Athletic Therapists care about your neck!

Picture of Dr. Sarah Twelvetree

Dr. Sarah Twelvetree

Sarah is a born and raised Albertan who started her Athletic Therapy journey in 1996. Attending Mount Royal College and the University of Winnipeg to complete her Athletic Therapy education, she went on to certify in 2005, but not before undertaking a career as an EMT. Her passion for fieldwork led her to work with numerous sports, some at a national level. Her proudest accomplishment as an Athletic Therapist has been knowing that she makes a difference in the lives of her athletes (winning a Western Championship is right up there too though!). Sarah is also a Canadian Red Cross Training Partner and has instructed CPR, First Aid and First Responder courses over the past 15 years. A passion for further education led Sarah back to school in 2015 to become an Acupuncturist and Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and is the only practitioner in Alberta to hold both the CAT(C) and DTCM designations. Sarah owns a multidisciplinary clinic in downtown Calgary where she focusses on pain management using both Western and Eastern techniques.

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. 

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©The Canadian Red Cross Society

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!

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