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The Sports Institute at UW Medicine produced a short educational film demonstrating new, recommended techniques for treating athletes with a suspected cervical spine injury. These recommendations are made in two peer-reviewed papers written by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Spine Injury in Sport Group, including The Sports Institute’s senior medical director and co-founder, Stanley Herring, MD, with support from the NCAA and Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC).

As The Sports Institute works to expand participation and safety in sports, it has focused on educating parents, athletes, coaches and medical personnel on best practices in sports safety. “Spine Injury in Sport – Managing On-Field Cervical Spine Injuries” is meant to help update medical teams on vital research and techniques and help parents, coaches and athletes advocate for best practices in sports safety.

“The care of the spine-injured athlete is dependent upon the collaboration of medical professionals from athletic trainers to EMTs/paramedics, team and emergency physicians and beyond,” says Herring. “The techniques outlined in these two manuscripts can make a life-saving difference, which is why it’s important they are rehearsed by medical personnel before players are back on the field. We also thought it was critical that in addition to the two papers, we create a high-quality visual component to allow for efficient and effective training across disciplines.”

During filming, which took place at Husky Stadium, The Sports Institute partnered with Seattle Medic One and the NATA, as well as Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Athletics and UW Medicine.

Working with experts from The Sports Institute and the NATA Spine Injury in Sport Group proved insightful for all involved, including those who have previously rehearsed these techniques in their training.

Rob Scheidegger, LAT, associate athletic director for Health and Wellness at the University of Washington, and Steve Mitchell, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department at Harborview Medical Center, joined Herring for a discussion of the work following a virtual premiere screening of the film last month. Both noted the importance of teamwork, preparation and practice — key elements of the film — as well as the updated techniques for care.

“Preparation is a big part of success,” says Scheidegger. “Our team has practiced cervical spine treatment techniques before, but working on the film with The Sports Institute was a rare opportunity to learn from experts on the subject. It felt like Michael Jordan teaching me to shoot a jump shot.”

“We’re constantly reviewing processes for how we handle every scenario,” says Mitchell. “Who’s in charge? Who’s standing where? Who has what role? Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time is crucial for proper treatment of an injured athlete. You don’t want to do the training while you’re taking care of the patient.”

“Spine Injury in Sport – Managing On-Field Cervical Spine Injuries” is available on The Sports Institute webpage along with the manuscripts, published in the Journal of Athletic Training. The Sports Institute is available for further questions and collaboration to make this work available to more practitioners. For questions, email

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