Catastrophic spine injuries are rare in high school sports, but when they happen they are always devastating. The sports with the highest risk of major spinal injuries are:
- ice hockey
The most common mechanism of injury for high-risk sports is a strong axial compression to the top of the head while the neck is slightly flexed. In football, paralysis caused by high impact has been widely publicized, and strong helmet impact with either the turf or other players is typically the cause. Similarly, in ice hockey head-first impact with the ice or boards is the most frequent cause of a broken neck, though a whiplash response to player impact can also cause severe spinal damage. In wrestling, neck injuries are found in approximately 1 in every 100,000 participants, and most injuries occur in match competition. In women’s and girls’ sports, cheerleading is by far the most dangerous, accounting for about 2/3 of the catastrophic injuries at the high school level, and 70.5% at the college level.
In all sports, safe equipment must be worn, and qualified coaches and referees must pay close attention to enforcing safe play within the rules. If you ever suspect that a neck or spine injury has occurred, call 911 and let trained emergency personal prepare the injured person for transport to a qualified hospital (typically a Level 1 trauma center). It is important to minimize mobility, and to refrain from removing helmets or other headgear until neck stabilization has occurred.
Burnett & Williams represents clients who have spine and neck injuries that are the result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. If you know someone who has been injured and has questions about whether they need a lawyer, have them give us a call for a no-fee consultation. Especially in cases of long-term paralysis or permanent back injury, it is important to be sure that insurance and settlement options are fully explored.