Today's News

Friday, March 17, 2000

Removing helmet causes increase in lordosis

Removal of an ice hockey helmet from a downed player causes a significant increase in lordosis (extension) of the cervical spine, say co-authors of a study in poster exhibit 302. They recommend that ice hockey helmets not be removed from injured players, as they maintain the cervical spine in a neutral position.

The goal of the study was to radiographically assess the relative position of the cervical spine in subjects immobilized to a standard spine back board while wearing ice hockey shoulder pads both with and without a helmet.

Ten adult male volunteers (ages 18 to 28) with no previous history of cervical spine injuries were enrolled in the study. Each volunteer, while serving as his own control, was fitted with an appropriate-sized ice hockey helmet and shoulder pads as would be provided to participants on a university ice hockey team.

All subjects were immobilized in a supine position to a standard spine back board with straps and lateral foam pads attached to the back board to secure the head in a neutral position. Images of the cervical spine were obtained with computerized tomography scout scans with the subjects wearing no protective equipment (the initial control), wearing an appropriate-sized ice hockey helmet and shoulder pads, and wearing only shoulder pads after the helmet was removed. The cervical spine lateral tomographic analysis was assessed by a computer program (Adobe Photoshop) with the amount of cervical kyphosis or lordosis measured using the Cobb angle.

The study showed that when the helmet was removed and the shoulder pads remained, a significant increase in C2-C7 lordosis was found when compared to helmet and shoulder pads remaining (P<.0l) and to controls (P<.01).

Co-authors of the study, all of the department of orthopaedic surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, are Fred Wentorf, MS, research fellow; Robert F. LaPrade, MD, assistant professor, sports medicine and shoulder division; Kent Schnetzler, BA, medical student; and Erik Wendland. Other co-authors are Robert J. Broxterman, ATC/R, University of Minnesota; and Thomas Gilbert, MD, Center for Diagnostic Imaging, St. Louis Park, Minn.

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Last modified 24/February/2000 by IS