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August 1, 1959


Author Affiliations

Eugene, Ore.

From the Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic.

JAMA. 1959;170(14):1640-1646. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010140020006

Classifying the injuries incurred by football players has given valuable clues for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The upper extremity is less liable to injury than the lower because usually it bears little weight and is not fixed, but certain typical injuries to it do occur and are here analyzed. The lower extremity is usually fixed by contact with the ground and burdened by the weight of the rest of the body; injuries to the pelvis and lower extremity are therefore more frequent and severe. The head and vertebral column have rightly received more attention than other body segments because of the frequency of damage to the face and the seriousness of damage to the brain and spinal cord. Here probably the most lethal weapon in football is the oncoming knee, which exerts forces that must either be absorbed by the head or transmitted to the vertebral column. It may be necessary to redesign some of the protective equipment now in use, including the present-day facial protection bars.