Earlier this summer at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposium the NATA released an executive summary of a coming consensus statement on the pre-hospital management of spine injuries. This statement is an update of a previous statement that was originally published in 1998. While the final approved consensus statement is yet to be published and supporting educational materials developed many organizations are beginning to implement the new recommendations.

These new recommendations coincide with the beginning of a new school year and fall sports season. This means whether we’re watching youth, college or professional athletes the response by athletic trainers and other medical professionals may be different than traditionally expected. Trained healthcare professionals always have the final say in how any emergency situation is managed with the safety and health of the patient in mind, but some of the traditional recommendations have changed. The most significant update to the management of spine injured athletes is:

Protective equipment should be removed before transport to the emergency department and removal should be performed by at least 3 trained rescuers at the earliest possible time. Equipment should not be moved with less than three trained professionals.

The statement goes on to provide a rationale for recommending that athletic equipment be removed prior to transporting the athlete-patient as opposed to after arrival at the emergency department as previously recommended. The rationale for the change was impacted by advances in equipment technology, removal of equipment by the most trained professionals (athletic trainers), expedited access to the patient for enhanced provider care and prioritizing chest access.

To read the full statement click HERE.

Healthcare is a constantly evolving field as new information comes to light regularly. Sports medicine is no different and this consensus statement is just the latest progression in the management of emergency conditions, specifically acute spine injuries.