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Paralyzed Players: Log Rolls vs Lifting?

ROCHESTER, NY (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Sports are the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. When a player goes down, the technique used to move him or her off the field could mean the difference between walking and not walking.

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Helmets hitting…bodies colliding … bones crunching … in football, the risk of injuries is part of the game.

“It’s always on your mind because I've had hits where I've hit someone and it’s just like a shock,” Nick Sorosky, who plays strong safety, told Ivanhoe.

Spinal surgeon at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Glenn Rechtine, M.D., has spent more than a decade researching how to safely get players with spine injuries off the field.

“Absolutely to begin with, you’ve got to immobilize the spine to cut down on the likelihood of any further injury,” Dr.Rechtine said.

For years, trainers have used a log roll. Doctor Rechtine says it’s dangerous.

“A person’s head, shoulders and pelvis are all different widths, so if they go up their side, their head’s moving up and down, the shoulders are sticking out and their pelvis sags,” Dr. Rechtine explained.

To find a better way, Rechtine used GPS like technology on the injured spines of cadavers. Sensors measured any movement in the head, shoulders and pelvis.

“Each time we tested it, the log roll technique has lost the competition,” Dr. Rechtine said.

Far better were lifting techniques. One uses a person at the head and three lifters straddling the patient. It works, but Rechtine says the best technique has a person at the head and three lifters on each side.

“This is the one that we’ve found is the best for eliminating spine motion while we’re getting the patient onto a spine board,” Dr. Rechtine said.

Nick felt a big difference with the six-person lift.

“I was hardly moving at all so that last one’s obvious, you can tell it’s much better,” Sorosky said.

Doctor Rechtine says up to twenty-five percent of people with spine injuries get worse when moved or during treatment. By changing the way first responders do it, he hopes that statistic will change.

Doctor Rechtine says using the six people plus technique reduces the amount a player is moved by at least fifty percent when compared to the log roll. He says trainers and support staff should do a practice run before every game so they’re ready when they need to move an injured player.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Dr. Glenn Rechtine
University of Rochester Medical Center
Rochester, New York

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