JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Spine concerns in the Special Olympian with Down syndrome.

As with any child participating in sports, the safety of The Special Olympian participating in athletics is paramount. The preparticipation medical clearance is necessary to ensure these athletes' safety. In response to evidence that 15% of all individuals with Down syndrome have atlanto-occipital and/or atlanto-axial instability or subluxation, the Special Olympics Inc have additionally mandated preparticipation spine clearance for all individuals with Down syndrome. Spine clearance for the Special Olympian is challenging for the healthcare provider. In addition, controversy has arisen surrounding The Special Olympics Inc policy statement. The purposes of this article are to provide healthcare providers with a review of atlanto-occipital and atlanto-axial instability and subluxation, review spine clearance guidelines, discuss the details and controversy surrounding The Special Olympics Inc mandate, and provide recommendations on how to improve screening and ensure safety of the participants based on the current medical literature.

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