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Jacobson honored for research on spine injuries

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Mercyhurst University collaborative study on proper protocols for managing the on-field emergency care of football players with apparent cervical cord injuries continues to gain recognition.

Project leader Bradley Jacobson, MA, ATC, chair of Mercyhurst’s Sports Medicine Department and assistant professor of sports medicine, was presented the Kenneth L. Knight Award for the 2014 Outstanding Scholarly Manuscript of the Year for the Journal of Athletic Training, the official publication of the National Athletic Trainers Association. The article outlined results of the study. Jacobson received the award June 24 at the 66th Annual NATA National Clinical Symposia in St Louis, Missouri.

Besides Jacobson, the research team included Kevin M. Cooney, PT, manager of the Shriners Movement Analysis Lab, biomechanist Dustin Bruening, Ph.D., (formerly of Shriners Hospital), Mike Cendoma, CEO of Sports Medicine Concepts, and Mercyhurst graduate Jacob Gdovin, now a Ph.D. student in biomechanics at Old Miss. All were recognized for their contributions to the project titled "Cervical Spine Motion During Football Equipment Removal Protocols: A Challenge to the All-or-Nothing Endeavor."

Nearly 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries occur each year, with sports-related events causing approximately 7.6 percent of them. Of those attributed to athletics, football tallies the largest number of catastrophic cervical spine injuries, reports the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center.

The study asserts that proper pre-hospital on-field medical care of the spine-injured athlete, including equipment removal, is critical in limiting secondary cervical spine injury while also allowing access to the airway and chest compressions.

“Our belief is that as the word continues to get out, the protocols we’ve established will go a long way toward minimizing such devastating football injuries,” Jacobson said. “Ultimately, this will improve the health of athletes, from Little Gridders to the NFL.”

As part of the project, Jacobson and Gdovin spent the summer of 2012 presenting their research to medical staffs of NFL teams, including the New York Giants, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts. The daylong sessions were directed at team neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, athletic trainers and paramedics.