Author(s): Loro WA, Owens B
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To introduce the case of a collegiate wrestler who suffered a traumatic unilateral hypoglossal nerve injury. This case presents the opportunity to discuss the diagnosis and treatment of a 20-year-old man with an injury to his right hypoglossal nerve. BACKGROUND: Injuries to the hypoglossal nerve (cranial nerve XII) are rare. Most reported cases are the result of malignancy, with traumatic causes less common. In this case, a collegiate wrestler struck his head on the wrestling mat during practice. No loss of consciousness occurred. The wrestler initially demonstrated signs and symptoms of a mild concussion, with dizziness and a headache. These concussion symptoms cleared quickly, but the athlete complained of difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and demonstrated slurred speech (dysarthria). Also, his tongue deviated toward the right. No other neurologic deficits were observed. DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS: Occipital-cervical junction fracture, syringomyelia, malignancy, iatrogenic causes, cranial nerve injury. TREATMENT: After initial injury recognition, the athletic trainer placed the patient in a cervical collar and transported him to the emergency department. The patient received prednisone, and the emergency medicine physician ordered cervical spine plain radiographs, brain computed tomography, and brain and internal auditory canal magnetic resonance imaging. The physician consulted a neurologist, who managed the patient conservatively, with rest and no contact activity. The neurologist allowed the patient to participate in wrestling 7 months after injury. UNIQUENESS: To our knowledge, no other reports of unilateral hypoglossal nerve injury from relatively low-energy trauma (including athletics) exist. CONCLUSIONS: Hypoglossal nerve injury should be considered in individuals with head injury who experience dysphagia and dysarthria. Athletes with head injuries require cranial nerve assessments.
This article was published in J Athl Train
and referenced in Journal of Novel Physiotherapies