Management of the Unconscious Athlete

Athletes falling unconscious is not uncommon, especially in contact sports such as football, hockey, or rugby. When an athlete goes unconscious, you should first assess their ABC’s. This stands for airway, breathing, and circulation. In an unconscious patient, you must always assume a cervical spine injury and handle the patient with extreme caution. If the individual is found face down, proceed to slowly bring him on his back by using the log-rolling technique. This maneuver should be directed by the individual maintaining the patient’s airway and cervical spine alignment. Skilled personnel with adequate training should be involved in this step. Remove face masks to allow for boardairway access, but leave helmets and shoulder pads in place. The helmet can be removed if it isn’t stabilizing the head and cervical spine or if it is obstructing the airway. Transporting the patient onto the spine board is achieved by either the log-rolling or the five-man lift technique. Do not forget to securely strap the patient on the spine board before moving them. Advanced trauma and cardiac life support protocols should be performed promptly.



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