Management of Suspected Spinal Injury



Do not move the player

  • Unless directed by qualified medical personnel.
  • A player suffering from a severe neck injury may still be able to move all limbs. Reassure them, keep them calm and as still as possible.
  • Moving the player before stabilising their neck may increase the chance of permanent paralysis.

Do not apply a cervical collar unless specifically trained to do so

  • Non-medically qualified first aiders, referees and coaches should err on the side of caution and seek assistance of qualified medical personnel in the event of any suspected spinal or potentially serious injury.
  • Keep the player warm and dry.

If the player is unconscious

Always suspect the player has a neck injury.

When the player comes around, determine how the injury occurred . Ask if the player has tingling in their upper or lower limbs and if they have any loss or power or strength in their limbs.

Do not move the player unless you or others present have experience in the management of spinal injury. Give reassurance to the player and any family member or friends while awaiting the ambulance.

If you think a player has a fracture or has dislocated a limb

The injured limb should be supported, ideally with a splint, while the player is lifted onto a stretcher or helped from the field. The player should be transported to hospital for assessment by a medical team to confirm the diagnosis or exclude injury as soon as possible.

At the pitch side, if a fragment of bone is seen sticking out of the players skin it should be covered with a clean towel while waiting for the ambulance.

Before being seen in hospital do not allow the player to eat or drink as they may need to fast for surgery


Treatment of an injured player who is bleeding

A player who has an open or bleeding wound must leave the playing area until the bleeding is controlled and the wound is covered or dressed.

Before returning to the pitch the player must replace any blood stained clothing with clean clothing.