The Sports Institute

We work to expand participation and safety in sports.

Spine Injury in Sport


Athletes with a suspected spinal injury require precise, update to date and well-practiced on-field treatment by medical care teams. Successful on-field management of potential spinal injuries can be life-saving.

In 1998, more than 30 emergency medicine and sports medicine organizations established a uniform set of guidelines for handling possible spine injuries.  Since that time, new research and ever-changing equipment innovations require an update to the established guidelines. In addition, as the emergency and sports medicine communities grow, the techniques used to thoughtfully communicate life-saving education and to encourage practice and preparation must evolve.


Spearheaded by NATA, we collaborated with the NCAA on an effort to update the 2009 NATA Statement, “Acute management of the cervical spine-injured athlete”. These updated recommendations, created by the Spine Injury in Sport Group (SISG), inform the way on-field spinal injuries are managed.

To compliment these recommendations, The Sports Institute produced a high-quality training film to effectively communicate the guidelines throughout stakeholder communities. It is a tool for training new athletic trainers, emergency and medical professionals.

Where We Are

We worked with our partners to produce the above film, which demonstrates updated guidelines for on-field treatment of cervical spine injuries. The guidelines can be found in two peer-reviewed papers published by The Journal of Athletic Training, co-authored by Dr. Stanley Herring, Co-Founder and Senior Medical Advisor of The Sports Institute. We are now focused on integrating the film into medical personnel training and curriculum around the world. Read the papers below.


Film Partners: Cliff Avril, The Distillery, Harborview Medical Center, National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), Seattle Medic One, UW Athletics and UW Medicine.

Research Partners: Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center (HIPRC), NATA and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Special thanks go to Cliff Avril, former Seattle Seahawk and All-Pro Defensive Lineman. Cliff experienced a cervical spine injury in 2017 and has been a strong advocate for educating medical personnel on the updated guidelines. The Sports Institute’s film on C-Spine Injury management would not have been possible without Cliff’s insight and passion for sports safety.