Swartz and lead author Steven Broglio of the University of Michigan captured this groundbreaking spinal fracture data while studying concussions. Broglio had fitted the helmets of football players at a high school in the Midwest with padded sensors as part of the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS), which measures the location and magnitude of impacts to the helmet. During a head-down tackle, an 18-year-old cornerback in the study suffered both a concussion and a fracture of his cervical spine, or neck. (He has since fully recovered.)
“This is really novel,” says Swartz, explaining that all previous research on cervical spine injuries have been done on cadavers, animals, or via mathematical modeling. “You can’t create a cervical spine fracture in a healthy human, but here you have an actual event where we captured data during an actual cervical spine injury,” he says.
Swartz notes that this research will bring real-world information to the study of axial load impact to the head and its effects on the spine. “We now have data that we know caused a serious spine injury in a healthy, 18-year-old strong-bodied athlete,” he says.
Swartz, who teaches athletic training, was tapped by Broglio for his expertise in cervical spine injuries in athletes. Swartz helped analyze the acceleration data from the in-helmet sensors in collaboration with sideline video footage of the tackle to describe the effects of the impact to the player.
The authors see far-reaching implications for this work in the quest for greater safety in youth sports. In the journal letter, they note that sports and recreation activities are the second most common cause of cervical spine injuries for people under age 30, with an average lifetime cost of more than $3 million.
While concussions are far more common than broken necks among high school or college athletes, Broglio notes that media attention has been focused on professional sports. “To us, the larger public health issue is with the 1.5 million high school kids that play football each year. Not the 1,500 that play in the NFL,” he says.
Swartz adds that this work will inform ongoing discussions about the safety and long-term effects of head-down tackles. “It sends a huge message to the athletic community about head-down impact,” he says.
The research, “In Vivo Biomechanical Measurements of a Football Player's C6 Spine Fracture,” along with the sideline video of the tackle, is available to download from the July 21, 2011 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine:
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1102689?query=featured_home. In addition to Swartz and Broglio, co-authors are Joseph Crisco of Brown University and Robert Cantu, M.D., of Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass.
The department of kinesiology is in the College of Health and Human Services. The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.
Beth Potier | EurekAlert!
A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy