The Sports Institute

We work to expand participation and safety in sports.

Spine Injury in Sports


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.


We led an effort to update and communicate the cervical spine guidelines for best practices of care. The updated guidelines, recommended by the Spine Injury in Sport Group (SISG), inform the way on-field spinal injuries are managed. In addition, The Sports Institute produced a high-quality training video to effectively communicate the guidelines throughout stakeholder communities. It is a tool for training new athletic trainers, emergency and medical professionals, and informing parents, policymakers and athletes of the agreed upon best practices.

Our Next Move

We’re working with partners to finalize, develop and distribute engaging educational assets – including video – to best inform stakeholders of the updated guidelines for on-field treatment of cervical spine injuries.


Cliff Avril, National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), UW Athletics, Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center (HIPRC), UW Medicine, The Distillery, Seattle Medic One, Harborview Medical Center.