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Key Terms

Acute compartment syndrome



Avascular necrosis

Colles’ fracture

Destot sign


Essex-Lopresti fracture


Gravity (modified Stimson’s) method


Lisfranc fracture

Myositis ossificans


Ottawa rules


Radial palsy

Roux sign

Self-reduction technique

Smith’s fracture

Traction/external rotation procedure

Volkman’s ischemic contracture


As an athletic trainer covering a football game, you are called onto the field after an athlete remains grounded after a violent tackle. It appears as if the athlete has suffered a serious arm or shoulder injury. He complains of severe pain in his injured shoulder and upper arm but denies previous pathology to the involved extremity. An examination of the involved upper extremity reveals significant swelling at the proximal humerus with pain on palpation. There is no evidence of an obvious anatomical deformity or open fracture. The athlete is unable to actively move his injured shoulder, and he cannot extend the wrist. However, he is able to actively flex and extend his elbow. Assessments of brachial and radial pulses find them within normal limits. From this on-field evaluation you suspect the athlete has sustained a proximal humerus fracture and associated radial nerve injury. What would proper emergency medical care of this traumatic orthopedic sports injury entail?


Regardless of sex, age, activity, and competitive level, athletes participating in sports are potentially more susceptible to traumatic orthopedic injuries than are sedentary individuals. Orthopedic sports injuries range from capsuloligamentous sprains, musculotendinous strains, or skeletal fractures to joint subluxations or dislocations. On-site emergency care of traumatic orthopedic injuries may present diverse examination and treatment challenges for the athletic trainer. It is pertinent that athletic trainers be aware of inherent traumatic risk potential for specific athletic activities typically encountered in orthopedic sports medicine. As frequent first-responders, athletic trainers must also formulate effective protocols for successfully managing these types of traumatic sports injuries. As such, an initial response to a traumatic orthopedic sports injury comprises determining if a true emergency exists. If indeed an orthopedic medical emergency transpires, athletic trainers must be properly prepared to implement appropriate treatment and transport of the injured athlete. This chapter introduces the essential principles of emergency medical care for the athletic trainer to properly manage traumatic skeletal fractures and joint dislocations commonly encountered in sports.

Basic Emergency Medical Care

The athletic trainer must be well versed in examining life-and limb-threatening circumstances and determining appropriate interventions for successfully managing such injuries. Sound didactic and practical instruction is vital in preparing athletic trainers to ...

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