of Eric LeGrand's (Rutgers University) Head-Down Hit and
Jon Heck, MS, ATC 10/10
#52 in the red jersey:
Clear slow motion video of the hit begins at about 1:14
A Head-Down Hit
LeGrand is at least the 4th football player paralyzed so
far in 2010 in high scool and college football. There is
excellent slow motion video of this hit. He approaches contact
with his head-up but (as often happens) he makes the mistake
of lowering his head just before impact. The top of his helmet
makes contact with the back of the ball-carriers shoulder.
The usual mechanism of injury is on display here, head-down
contact that results in an axial
load to the cervical spine. I don't think there is much
controversy here. But, to be clear, this was not a "freak
have known the mechanism of these catastrophic injuries since
the mid 1970's.
LeGrand (52) makes head-down contact with the ball-carrier.
This hit resulted in a cervical spine injury and
notice no flag was thrown on this play. This continues
to be the norm for incidents of head-down contact in college.
Even the hits that result in paralysis. This hit could
have easily been flagged under the NCAA rule for initiating
contact ... "No player shall initiate contact and
target an opponent with
his helmet. When in question, it is a foul" ... Throwing
flags on more of these head-down hits that don't result
serve as a deterent and help prevent the catastrophic injuries
that do result from it.
This injury has to be used to prevent similar injuries
in the future by showing the mistake that was made and
demonstrating the mechanism of injury. The
bottom line remains: By keeping the head-up and initiating
contact with the shoulder, these injuries can be prevented
at every level ... high school, college and professional.