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Preventing spinal cord injuries in athletes

Published: Oct. 4, 2016 at 8:30 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2016 at 10:26 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Spinal cord injuries are not considered common on the football field, but they can be dramatic.

In some cases, those injuries can lead to paralysis.

Football is a big sport in the southeast, and spinal injuries are a big concern for parents, players, and coaches.

"So let's face it, very common in football athletes but it's not isolated to just football athletes," said Dr. Erik Westerlund, orthopedic reconstructive surgeon at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. "Rugby players, soccer players, any high velocity contact."

Dr. Westerlund says the recent growing concern about spinal injuries has actually helped to decrease injury rates.

"Number of measures implemented over time to decrease injuries to the neck and spine," Dr. Westerlund said. "One, proper equipment, proper technique – something that's a mainstay for training of players and coaches and trainers."

Dr. Westerlund also says along with proper equipment, proper athletic technique and vigilant coaches and trainers can also help players prevent neck and spine injuries.

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