Surfer's myelopathy: A rare presentation in a teenage gymnast and review of the literature

William L. Dillen, Benjamin K. Hendricks, Jonathan P. Mannas, Greg R. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This article describes a novel setting for a rare nontraumatic spinal cord injury referred to as Surfer's myelopathy. The patient is a 16 year-old female cheerleader who presented following a gymnastics practice where she was repeatedly performing back handsprings. She demonstrated progressively worsening midthoracic back pain and evolving paraplegia and hypesthesia of the lower extremities. Magnetic resonance imaging findings were consistent with T5-T7 spinal cord ischemia at 8 h and 16 h after symptom onset. The clinical and radiologic findings for this patient are consistent with previous case reports of Surfer's myelopathy. The authors also provide a summary of the current literature describing Surfer's myelopathy, which to date includes 64 reported cases. The diagnosis of nontraumatic spinal cord injury, referred to as Surfer's myelopathy, in a gymnast highlights the importance of greater physician and patient awareness of this rare condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-160
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Acute paraparesis
  • Hyperextension
  • Ischemia
  • Spinal cord
  • Surfer's myelopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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