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Disabling injuries of the cervical spine in Argentine rugby over the last 20 years.
  1. F P Secin,
  2. E J Poggi,
  3. F Luzuriaga,
  4. H A Laffaye
  1. Centro de Educación Médica e Investigaciones, Clínicas Norberto Quirno, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE: To investigate the incidence and risk factors of disabling injuries to the cervical spine in rugby in Argentina. METHODS: A retrospective review of all cases reported to the Medical Committee of the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) and Rugby Amistad Foundation was carried out including a follow up by phone. Cumulative binomial distribution, chi 2 test, Fisher test, and comparison of proportions were used to analyse relative incidence and risk of injury by position and by phase of play (Epi Info 6, Version 6.04a). RESULTS: Eighteen cases of disabling injury to the cervical spine were recorded from 1977 to 1997 (0.9 cases per year). The forwards (14 cases) were more prone to disabling injury of the cervical spine than the backs (four cases) (p = 0.03). Hookers (9/18) were at highest risk of injury (p < 0.01). The most frequent cervical injuries occurred at the 4th, 5th, and 6th vertebrae. Seventeen of the injuries occurred during match play. Set scrums were responsible for most of the injuries (11/18) but this was not statistically significant (p = 0.44). The mean age of the injured players was 22. Tetraplegia was initially found in all cases. Physical rehabilitation has been limited to the proximal muscles of the upper limbs, except for two cases of complete recovery. One death, on the seventh day after injury, was reported. CONCLUSIONS: The forwards suffered a higher number of injuries than the backs and this difference was statistically significant. The chance of injury for hookers was statistically higher than for the rest of the players and it was particularly linked to scrummaging. However, the number of injuries incurred in scrums was not statistically different from the number incurred in other phases of play.

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