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American Academy of Neurology Says Police Must End Use of Neck Restraints

THURSDAY, June 10, 2021 -- Chokeholds, strangleholds, and other neck restraints should no longer be used in U.S. law enforcement, a new position statement from the American Academy of Neurology (ANN) says.

At a minimum, federal, state and local law enforcement and policymakers should classify neck restraints as a form of deadly force.

"Because of the inherently dangerous nature of these techniques, and because there is no amount of training or method of application of neck restraints that can mitigate the risk of death or permanent profound neurologic damage with these maneuvers, the American Academy of Neurology recommends prohibiting the use of neck restraints in law enforcement," Orly Avitzur, M.D., president of the AAN, said in an academy news release.

The deaths of George Floyd, Eric Garner, and others call into question whether these restraints are controllable, safe, and nonlethal, and evidence clearly shows that restricting blood or oxygen flow to the brain, even briefly, can cause permanent injury, including stroke, mental impairment, and death, according to the statement.

"The neurologic consequences that result from limiting blood flow or oxygen to the brain due to the use of neck restraints are potentially irreversible and entirely preventable," Avitzur said.

The statement also noted that people with underlying heart risk factors are more likely to suffer significant neurologic injury from neck restraints, and the United States has high rates of heart disease, particularly among people of color.

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