Many conditions involving the cervical spine in the athlete require a management decision. The purpose of this paper is to present appropriate guidelines for return to collision activities in those with congenital, developmental, or post-injury lesions. Information compiled from over 1200 cervical spine lesions documented by the National Football Head & Neck Injury Registry, an extensive literature review, as well as an understanding of injury mechanisms have resulted in reasonable management guidelines. Each of the congenital, developmental, and post-traumatic conditions presented are determined to present either no contraindication, relative contraindication, or an absolute contraindication on the basis of a variety of parameters. Conditions included in the discussion are: odontoid anomalies; spina bifida occulta; atlanto-occipital fusion; Klipple-Feil anomalies; cervical canal stenosis; spear tackler's spine; and traumatic conditions of the upper, middle, and lower cervical spine, including ligamentous injuries and fractures, intervertebral disc injuries, and post-cervical spine fusion. Emphasized is the fact that the proposed guidelines should be used in the decision-making process in conjuction with other factors such as the age, experience, ability of the individual, level of participation, position played, as well as the attitude and desires of the athlete and his parents after an informed discussion of the problem with particular regard to potential risk.





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