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Equipment Considerations in Sports Injuries

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athlete wearing a helmetThe following article was published in the summer 2007 issue of UW Health's Level One newsletter for emergency medicine health professionals:
 
General Considerations
  • - Initial assessment (ABCs, body position)
  • - Stabilize head and neck 
  • - Medical personnel stabilizing the head should coordinate all other personnel when attempting to move the injured person

Football

  • Do not remove helmet or shoulder pads
  • Remove face mask with electric screwdriver, or by cutting the plastic clips 
    • The face mask should be removed as quickly as possible any time a player is suspected of having a spinal injury, even if the player is still conscious

Hockey

  • Helmet removal depends on whether the helmet is properly fitted
    • What is the position of the head inside the helmet?
    • Is there space between the head and helmet? 
  • Do not remove shoulder pads

If helmet is fitted properly:

  • Do not remove helmet 
  • Stabilize head and neck 
  • To access airway, retract the mask by cutting the plastic loops, or remove
    screws with electric screwdriver

How to remove the helmet properly:

  • Medical personnel at the head should maintain stabilization
  • Additional personnel should stabilize the head and neck from the front 
  • The person at the head then removes the helmet 
  • Apply a hard cervical collar and proceed with proper care

Lacrosse

  • Remove helmet, cut chin strap
  • Do not remove shoulder pads
  • Medical personnel at the head should maintain stabilization 
  • Additional personnel should stabilize the head and neck from the front 
  • The person at the head then removes the helmet 
  • Apply a hard cervical collar and proceed with proper care

In all cases, if there is an immediate need for an airway, and you are unable to
remove the face mask, remove the helmet immediately.

 

- Sheri Almquist, LAT, Jolene Atkins, LAT
UW Health Sports Medicine