Face Mask Removal is Safer than Helmet Removal

Face Mask Removal is Safer than Helmet Removal

Face Mask Removal is Safer than Helmet Removal

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Everyone enjoys loves football in America.  The SuperBowl is the most watched  American TV event on a yearly basis.  Football can be a metaphor for war,  competition,  and victory.  That is why so many young men risk injury to play the sport.   Injuries are a reality,  and behind the scenes,  there are trained professionals ready to give assistant to the players.

As a spine surgeon,  I worry about the effects on the spine.  Every year,  we witness at least one of two NFL players go down with a spinal cord injury.  Many times,  there are simultaneous concerns about loss of consciousness,  as well as breathing problems for these players.  In that scenario,  the protective helmet and face mask can be a hinderance in delivering attention to the players breathing airway.  In unconscious players,  or with those with a neck complaint,  often there is a dilemma on removing the helmet versus removing the face mask to deliver airway protection.

In the June 2014 Spine Journal,  Erik E. Swartz,  et al designed a study to answer that very question.

22 experienced athletic trainers were enlisted to remove the face mask or the whole helmet (Riddell Revolution IQ and VSR4 helmet. These modern helmets have a quick release built into the helmet) .  A variable of inflation or deflation of the helmet was also investigated.

A six-camera 3-D motion system was used to record motion of the head during the removal,  and for each scenario.  Volunteers were fitted with helmets and pads.

After measuring the motion measurements during both the helmet and facemask removal procedures,   range of motion changes were compiled for each scenario.

The study showed much less motion of the head with the face mask removal.  The study concludes the safest option is to remove the face mask on a football player with an unknown neurologic status.

Erik Swartz, Phd,  personally communicated   “we’re now more confidently able to say that FM removal is safer than helmet removal, what we don’t know is if an airway can be effectively ventilated with the helmet (and chin strap) in place. We did some research this past Spring where it appears the chin strap prevents a seal with a pocket or bag-valve mask. So, if this is in fact the case, depending on the airway adjunct a provider was using they may not be able to adequately ventilate with the helmet and chin strap still in place…”

In this scenario,  the responders must  protect the spinal alignment while ensuring adequate ventilation.  Helmet removal might be necessary if adequate ventilation is not possible with the helmet and chin strap in place.

 

Citations

  • Swartz EE, Mihalik JP, Beltz NM, Day MA, Decoster LC. Face mask removal is safer than helmet removal for emergent airway access in American football. Spine J. 2014 Jun 1;14(6):996-1004. PubMed PMID: 24216399

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Author and Contributor to www.Spine-Health.com – July, 2015

www.Spine-Health.com/author/john-h-shim-md-facs

Chief of Surgery, Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals, Safety Harbor and Dunedin, Florida. 2014-2016.

Orthopaedic Section Chief Mease Countryside Hospital; Safety Harbor, Florida Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.2008-2013

Board Member Morton Plant Mease Research Council

Co-Director of Mease Neuro-Ortho Spine Center Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.

One of “6 Spine Physicians Ranked #1 on Google” – December 2016

Top Ten Most Liked Spine Surgeons on the Internet – July 2016

2016 Spine Surgeons to Know list – January 2016

2014 Spine Specialists to know list – September 2014

One of Ten Leaders of Certified Spine Programs – December 2011

 

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The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.
Outpatient Spine Surgery Considerations. www.Spine-Health.com. January 2016.

What is Spinal Stenosis? www.Spine-Health.com. October 2015.

Surgeon insights on the Changing Landscape of Orthopedic Care. OrthopedicToday. June 2014

Chapter 33: Interspinous Spacers. Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

Chapter 35: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Lumbar Fusion Technique.Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

March 2010 Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana February 2010

February 2010 A Review of Dynamic Stabilization in the Lumbar Spine Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

November 2009 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Community Based Lecture; Tampa, Florida

September 2009 Instructor/Proctor Minimally Invasive Lumbar Cadaver Lab; Tampa, Florida

February 2009 New Spinal Technology: Cervical Disc Replacement and Interspinous Spacers. Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

February 2008 The Degenerative Spine: The Role of Dynamic Lumbar Stablization and Interspinous Spacers Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

October 2008 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

September 2007 Emerging Technology in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

October 2006 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

May 2005 The Role of Kyphoplasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures Mease Neurosciences Symposium; Clearwater, Florida
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