Brachial Plexus Injury: A Descriptive Study of American Football


A stinger is a common, yet understudied, injury that involves stretching or compression of the brachial plexus, often occurring during contact sports. Five football teams, including high school, collegiate, and professional teams, completed questionnaires. Questions were designed to obtain descriptive information regarding the nature and consequence of this injury and assess effectiveness of current preventive measures. Three hundred and four surveys were returned with 153 players reporting a stinger in their career (50.3%). The prevalence increased with years played and was most common in running backs (69%), defensive linemen (60%), linebackers (55%), and defensive secondary (54%). Current protective equipment and neck-strengthening programs did not provide protective benefits. Players at greatest risk of developing a stinger include those having played 3 or more years and players whose primary position is running back, defensive back, or defensive lineman. Further study is needed to better evaluate the effectiveness of current preventive measures. Key words: brachial plexus neurapraxia, football, nerve injury, shoulder and neck injury, stinger

Harlan M. Starr, Jr., MD; Blake Anderson, MD; Ron Courson, ATC; and John G. Seiler, MD