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The Athletic Cervical and Thoracic Spine Exam: A Systematic Approach

presented by Todd Arnold, MD and Kyle Matsel, PT, DPT, PhD, SCS, CSCS

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Kyle Matsel is a Functional Movement Systems instructor and receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. Todd Arnold also receives compensation from MedBridge for this course.There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.

Nonfinancial: Kyle Matsel and Todd Arnold have no competing nonfinancial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

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Video Runtime: 59 Minutes; Learning Assessment Time: 42 Minutes

Injuries to the neck and upper back can be complex, with diagnoses that are potentially catastrophic for athletes. An effective musculoskeletal examination is critical to manage these athletes effectively and maximize functional recovery. Dr. Kyle Matsel and Dr. Todd Arnold team up to present the most systematic and efficient approach to examination for athletes with neck and upper back dysfunction. The goal of this course will be to sharpen the decision-making and examination skills of the sports physical therapist to develop the most effective plan of care or determine if a medical referral is warranted. Live case examples of athletes with cervical and thoracic injuries will assist the sports physical therapist and athletic trainer in the development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and patient/parent education.

Meet Your Instructors

Todd Arnold, MD

Dr. Todd Arnold is a sports medicine physician with more than two decades of experience caring for athletes of all levels. He has been on the sidelines caring for those competing in high school sports, multiple levels of collegiate sports, NCAA Championships, and World Championships. He serves as the medical officer for elite athlete healthcare…

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Kyle Matsel, PT, DPT, PhD, SCS, CSCS

Dr. Matsel is a tenured associate professor at the University of Evansville, where he teaches in the musculoskeletal content areas of the Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum. He received his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Evansville in 2011 and his PhD in rehabilitation sciences from the University of Kentucky in 2021.…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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Download the learning objectives for The Athletic Cervical and Thoracic Spine Exam: A Systematic Approach.

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1. Acute Cervical Evaluation and Medical Screening

In this chapter, Dr. Kyle Matsel covers key historical and medical screening procedures that can direct clinicians to make proper referral decisions.

2. Cervical Spine Examination and Classification

Dr. Kyle Matsel demonstrates a functional assessment to classify athletes into one of four evidence-based neck pain categories. After completing this chapter, participants will be able to classify athletes with neck pain into the appropriate treatment-based classification category.

3. Medical Differential Diagnosis

It is important to use a traditional clinical approach when treating athletes with thoracic pain, starting with medical screening, identifying key historical factors, assessing breathing and regional interdependence, and measuring isolated range of motion. In this chapter, Dr. Arnold discusses the key assessments and tools that can be used in the clinical approach to thoracic pain. The participant will learn about red flags in the thoracic spine, when to refer a patient out, and how to apply these assessments in a clinical setting.

4. Case Demonstration

In this chapter, Dr. Matsel and Dr. Arnold will demonstrate a case study highlighting an athlete presenting with neck pain. Dr. Matsel will display systematic logic to correctly classify this athlete into the most appropriate diagnostic category.

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