Pro wrestler Roddy Piper's neck pain underscores need for sports safety awareness

Sep 13 2011
WWE professional wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper took to his Twitter account Sept. 12 and explained to fans that he's having spine surgery after months of ignoring neck pain.

Piper tweeted that he didn't know what caused the neck pain, and that he thought it would go away. After it started getting worse, he consulted doctors at the University of California Los Angeles. Following an MRI, they immediately admitted Piper for surgery.

This latest incident in the world of sports coincides with a reminder from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) that as the new school year begins, young athletes and their coaches need to be mindful of preventing injuries on the field. Sports-related ailments range from muscle sprains to spinal cord injuries, according to ACEP.

At least 30 people are paralyzed every day in the U.S. due to spinal cord injuries, totaling to an estimated 11,000 patients every year, according to the Think First National Injury Prevention Program. More than 7 percent of these incidents are sports-related, two thirds of which are from diving accidents.

In order to prevent injury, athletes need to remember to wear all required safety gear, including helmets, ACEP said. Also, proper training of the muscle groups used in their respective sports can maintain good alignment and prevent injury. When it comes to diving, it is important to check the depth of a swimming pool, and remember not to dive in a pool that is shallower than 9 feet or above ground, according to Think First.

In case something does happen on the field, signs of a possible spinal cord injury include numbing or tingling sensation in the limbs, inability to walk or move, loss of bowel and bladder control or unconsciousness, according to ACEP. In case of spinal cord injury, it is important to call 911 and stabilize the head, neck and shoulders to prevent further damage.