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Johns Hopkins doctor shows what to look for with injuries on the football field

Posted at 6:39 PM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 18:39:06-04

BALTIMORE — Last night we saw the impact Mervo senior wide receiver Elijah Gorham’s death had on his high school family, teammates and the city of Baltimore.

Tonight ahead of dozens of football games across the city and state, a Johns Hopkins sports medicine physician is urging players, coaches and fans to watch football games this weekend with a different lens...with safety more in focus.

Dr. Rajwinder Deu tells WMAR-2 News a few elements jumped off the screen as he watched the play where Elijah went down.

“You see him hit but then afterwards you see no movement in that regard and typically when an athletes goes down there will be some type of movement as far as their arms or their legs."

He says that indicated one of two things, either a spinal cord injury or brain injury. Though there aren’t specific ways Elijah’s injury could’ve been prevented—the doctor says its important for teams to have proper protocol in place in place for when injuries—minor or major do happen.

The first—having a medical staff on standby.

Having some type of trained professional there who knows how to asses the individual to determine if it is an urgent emergency versus something that you can take time on Dr. Due says one way to ensure players are safe is to practice safe blocking and tackling where players aren’t leading with their crown.

"That puts your cervical spine in a vulnerable position and it’s a way you can fracture the vertebrate injure the spine and get paralysis secondary to it and so a lot of the things are technique oriented in that sense,” he said.

He says all injuries aren’t as obvious once they happen so its important to recognize behavioral changes, that might indicate a concussion.

Dr. Deu says that job is one coaches—parents—and teammates all share.

We have four takeaways to tackle from the sports medicine physician ahead of tonight’s games, for players, coaches and fans.

1. Pay close attention to details when it comes to a players change in behavior after plays with a heavier amount of contact.
2. Coaches and players, be sure to re-enforce proper technique when it comes to blocking and tackling.
3. Have proper medical staff alert and in position in case of a medical emergency on the field.
4. Encourage players to stay hydrated, especially on hotter days.