Effects of Football Shoulder Pad Removal Technique and Equipment Removal Training on Cervical Spine Motion, Time to Task Completion, and Perceived Task Difficulty

This week’s EXSS Impact post highlights recent research by Catherine Lenhardt as part of her masters thesis that was performed under the direction of Jason Mihalik, Meredith Petschauer, Rob Lynall, Erik Swartz, and Melissa Fraser.

Why did you do the study?

1111_Football_EC_05_blogEmergency management of injury was a topic of interest of mine after an athlete I worked closely with passed away from sudden cardiac death shortly before I attended graduate school. I intended to use the two years of graduate school in the Athletic Training program in EXSS to research something that I was not only interested in, but something that I felt would impact the profession. I wanted to research something that would make a difference in the lives of both athletic trainers responding to emergency events, but also contribute to improved patient outcomes. More specifically, my thesis project set out to answer two questions. 1) What is the difference between 3 different shoulder pad removal techniques on cervical spine motion, time to task completion, and perceived task difficulty? 2) What is the interaction between reinforced training and control groups and between testing sessions on the same clinical measures?

What did you do and what did you find?

RIDDELL SHOULDER PADWe tested athletic trainers on their removal of equipment. In the first testing session, the athletic trainers practiced 3 different equipment removal techniques (flat torso and elevated torso with traditional shoulder pads and the Riddell™ RipKord shoulder pad removal technique) on a simulation manikin. They were tested in pairs and had the chance to practice both at the head and at the shoulder pads prior to the completion of the trials. Once they completed the removal techniques, the participants had the opportunity to rate the difficulty of each technique. For the second testing session, approximately 4 weeks later, the participants were either in a control group or a reinforced training group. For the control group, the participants received no further training in equipment removal, but were asked to complete the removal techniques again. For the reinforced training group, the participants received a second practice session in equipment removal before they completed the formal trials. The difficulty ratings were gathered again.

Our first research questions aimed to look at the differences between the 3 removal techniques on cervical spine motion, time to task completion, and perceived task difficulty. We found the Riddell™ RipKord shoulder pad removal technique to be significantly faster than the two traditional shoulder pad removal techniques. The RipKord shoulder pad removal technique was found to be significantly less difficult than the flat torso removal technique.

Our second question looked at the differences between testing session and training group. The reinforced training group saw improvements in limiting range of motion in both the frontal and the sagittal planes compared to the control group. Additionally, our participants were able to complete the two traditional shoulder pad removal techniques faster during testing session II compared to testing session I.

What’s the impact of these findings on the public?

shoulderpadremovalThe Riddell™ RipKord shoulder pads may provide a superior method for removal in terms of time for removal and difficulty of the task. Institutions that support football programs should consider the use of these shoulder pads for their superiority of removal method over traditional shoulder pads. However, we know that this may be difficult for certain institutions based on the available resources. Decisions for removal technique should be made based on the equipment type, available personnel, and experience with the removal technique. More so, institutions utilizing traditional shoulder pads should consider more frequent equipment removal practice sessions as more frequent removal sessions shortened the time to task completion. These recommendations for consideration highlight contributions to the improvement of emergency management of a cervical spine injured athlete by certified athletic trainers.