Recognition of Breathing Problems

The approach to the injured player is the same as through the rest of the course, and the safety, ABCDE approach should be followed. Clearly in a player with chest trauma it is important that supplemental oxygen is delivered as soon as possible.

When assessing “breathing”, we advise that a simple technique is used on the field, and a more detailed examination is undertaken in the medical room. If the initial simple examination causes concern, it may be appropriate to carry out the more detailed examination on the field too.

The simple “on the field” examination consists of:

Colour and Conscious Level

Talk: Can the player talk to you? If so, can they manage full sentences?

Respiratory Rate: This is likely to be elevated if the player has only just stopped playing, but it is essential to measure a baseline recording so that at subsequent reviews it is obvious if the situation is improving or deteriorating.

Expansion: The hands should be placed on the anterior chest wall. This allows for a rapid assessment of chest expansion, as well as identification of any areas of tenderness.

The more thorough medical room examination will be led by the practitioner’s clinical concerns and the player’s condition, but is likely to include as a minimum:

Colour and Conscious Level, Speech, Respiratory Rate, Expansion as above

Percussion Note

Breath Sounds and Air Entry (high and wide)

Tracheal Position