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Bodysurfing injuries of the spinal cord

Scher, A. T. (1995)

CITATION: Scher, A. T. 1995. Bodysurfing injuries of the spinal cord. South African Medical Journal, 85(10):1022-1024.

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In a group of 104 patients paralysed as a result of injury while swimming or diving, 3 patients were identified in whom the injury was sustained during bodysurfing. The mechanism of the injury and the clinical and radiological findings in this group differ markedly from the findings in the 101 patients paralysed after diving into shallow water. The 3 patients were significantly older with a mean age of 46 years. No fracture or dislocation of the cervical spine was present, but evidence of osteo-arthrosis was present in all cases. The pattern of spinal cord injury was that of incomplete paralysis consistent with the central cord syndrome. This combination of findings suggests that the mechanism of injury was forced hyperextension of the head and neck due to the surfers having been caught up in turbulent wave action and driven into the sandy sea bottom.

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