Case Study: Tim Wallace - Injury & Initial Rehab

Tim suffered a neck injury while playing rugby back in June of this year. The scrum he was involved in collapsed and the top of his head was forced into the ground. The combination of the weight of the collapsing scrum and his head position resulted in Tim hyperflexing his neck. See video below - Tim is in the second row, wearing the number 4 jersey.

Immediate precautions were taken and Tim was stretchered off the field.

Tim was immobilised for about 24 hours, and spent the night at Charli’s hospital. A closer analysis by MRI and further X-rays of his neck revealed ruptures to most of the ligaments from his C2 - C7, including the flavum and nuchal ligaments. Speaking with the doctors present, the initial advice was that he would be out of his Miami J neck brace within six weeks.

At the six week mark, Tim was advised that as a result of the brace he was wearing, his neck had incurred severe muscular atrophy, and that an Aspin brace had to be used instead for a another 6-8 weeks. Further, it was revealed through another set of X-Rays that Tim had subluxed his C3 and C4 - injuries not initially diagnosed. Tim was advised that there would be a high potential for surgery - specifically, a C3 & C4 spinal infusion.

Thankfully, this new brace coupled with Tim’s care, saved him from undergoing surgery, which would have ruled him out of physical activities for over a year. In total, Tim’s injury forced him into a brace for 14 weeks. Throughout this period in the brace, no form of rehab was allowed, and complete immobilisation was strongly recommended by all specialists he saw.

Towards the end of October - some 4 months after his injury and about a month after being out of his Aspin brace, Tim got together with Scotech for a initial round of testing, to gauge his neck strength and to discuss his best pathway forwards for starting a strong rehab program.

Having completed rigorous baseline tests with the Western Force, Scotech has a good foundation of data relating to ideal baseline strength in high-performing levels of rugby. Given Tim’s position in the premier grade side for his club, this data we’ve acquired will prove to be a perfect metric for Tim to measure his neck strength against as we move through the next few months.

Specifically, Scotech and Tim agreed on running the following exercises (at 1RM) - cervical flexion, cervical extension and cervical lateral flexion. Using Scotech’s dynamometer, we have Tim working at 80% of his maximum efforts. We want Tim to regain muscular control throughout his neck as efficiently as possible.

As we move forward, and more testing is done, we will continue to monitor his neck strength, and give him the best opportunity for a safe return to high level rugby. Speaking with Tim last week - he has already told us he is feeling a lot stronger and more confident in his neck control. Any apprehensions he had in his neck movements have almost faded away and he is moving towards a strong running program and has now been given the all clear to make a full return to the gym.

We endeavour to conduct more tests with Tim before the year is out, and we will be sure to keep everyone updated. We appreciate the time he has taken out to work with us, and we are more than confident that we can greatly help his confidence in rehabbing his injury and returning for the start of the 2022 rugby season.

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