Injuries to the face, rib cage and neck aren't common, but can bring severe and devastating consequences.
By Tricia J. Hubbard, MS, ATC
Collisions and football go hand-in-hand. It's an unfortunate combination that creates injuries on high school, collegiate and professional football fields across the country.
Football players sustain approximately 1.2 million injuries per year, estimates show. Injury risks rise with the level of play and age, as athletes get bigger, faster, and stronger and more aggressive.
The likelihood of sustaining a specific injury in football ranges from 11 percent to 81 percent. The knees, ankles and shoulders are especially vulnerable, and these areas account for almost half of all injuries.
Face, Rib Cage and Neck
While bone-rattling hits create plenty of knee, ankle and shoulder injuries, other less prominent parts of the body can be affected as well, such as the face, rib cage and neck. The consequences can be just as severe and damaging.
The foot, face and chest are on the opposite end of the spectrum, and constitute between 1 percent and 4 percent of injuries. Although the percentage of injury is low, the implications can be serious. As sports medicine clinicians, you might not see these traumas every day, but you should be prepared to manage them.
•Facial injuries. Most facial injuries are minor. However, players occasionally sustain facial fractures from blunt trauma during play.
Fractures can include more serious injuries to the zygoma, or orbit, which can cause greater disability. The most common mechanism of injury is a digital poke to the eye. Linemen are more likely to sustain these injuries because offensive and defensive players engage in contact on every play; using the hands allows players to be more effective.