Transient Hemiplegia in a Collegiate Ice Hockey Player

Gregory Decker, Ashwin Leo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An otherwise healthy 21-yr-old female hockey player sustained a cervical whiplash injury during competition after being checked and falling backward onto the ice. Initial assessment revealed right-sided hemiparesis and sensory abnormalities. Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography of the brain and spine were unremarkable. Most of her right upper limb symptoms resolved in 24 hrs, with complete resolution in 5 days. Over 6 wks, she regained right lower limb strength with mild residual sensory deficits. Repeat magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine was unremarkable. At 18 wks, sensory symptoms resolved, with the exception of mildly decreased lower limb proprioception. The athlete was cleared to return to noncontact drills but not competition. The differential diagnosis included transient quadriplegia and/or hemiplegia ("cervical cord neuropraxia"), which typically resolves in 48 hrs, and incomplete spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality, which is more likely to present with persistent symptoms. This case includes features of both diagnoses, making management challenging as return to play guidelines are nonspecific. Further research is needed to develop well-defined guidelines for spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality and cervical cord neuropraxia return-to-play decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E95-E97
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • Cervical Cord Neuropraxia
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Sports Medicine
  • Whiplash


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