TSSAA investigates high school wrestler's spinal injury - WSMV Channel 4

TSSAA investigates high school wrestler's spinal injury

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association says it will be looking closely at the circumstances that left a Williamson County freshman with a spinal cord injury.

A member of the Independence High School wrestling team, 15-year-old Hunter Garstin, is in intensive care after suffering the injury during a Huntsville tournament. 

TSSAA officials said they haven't witnessed a spinal cord injury due to wrestling in Tennessee in the past 20 years.

"It's just a freak accident that happened," said Bernard Childress of TSSAA. "Hunter went into his opponent with his head down, and they just both got into an awkward situation. He was pushing up against his opponent, and his opponent pushed down on him. It crushed his vertebrae."

Childress said the details of Garstin's case is being turned over to the National Federation of High Schools. The Sports Medical Advisory Committee could make recommendations for high school wrestling rules based on the case.

"It's a major concern for us anytime we've got a student athlete that's injured," said Childress. "Our number one priority in all of our sports is to keep our athletes safe."

Dr. Oran Aaronson of the Vanderbilt Spine Center added neck and spinal injuries from high school sports are rare, and he's never worked a case from wrestling. He said these injuries are possible in any full-contact sport which is why he recommends for wrestlers to build up neck muscles and follow rules of the game closely.

"If you have an early warning sign where you have an event during a game, and you get numbness, tingling down the hands, or transient paralysis, you need to seek medical advice," said Aaronson.

After leaving his hospital in Huntsville, Garstin will be going to a rehab facility to continue healing.

The community has set up an account for the family at Suntrust Bank called the 'Prayers for Hunter Garstin Benefit Fund'.

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