Preventing Athletes From Dying Suddenly Due To Exhaustion And Overexertion

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Athletes may seem so strong and healthy. Even the young athletes are already exceptional in their own fields. But, what really lies behind this common presumption? Recently, a lawsuit was filed after a college footballer died due to complications linked to SCT (sickle cell trait) while he was working out. Because of this, a mandatory SCT screening of all Division I student-athletes was done by the NCAA.

Moreover, a recent study made an evaluation regarding the effects of the NCAA policy. They discovered that testing solely will aid in SCT detection in more than 2,000 athletes. Nonetheless, this alone will not avoid death. According to Beth A. Tarini, MD, MS, the study’s lead author and assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, the policy is grounded on a good intention, but screening is only the initial measure. She emphasized that strict implementation of precautionary measures plus educating athletes and staff would play a vital role.

Tarini and colleagues Dr. M. Alison Brooks (a pediatric sports medicine physician at the University of Wisconsin) and Dr. David G. Bundy (assistant professor of pediatrics and an expert in sickle cell disease at Johns Hopkins University) examined the NCAA reports, population-based SCT prevalence estimates, and published risks for exercise-linked sudden deaths. These were utilized to determine the number of sickle cell carriers and number of preventable deaths, using mandatory NCAA SCT screening.

They discovered from their findings that an estimated of 7 NCAA Division I athletes would suffer sudden death, as complication of SCT in a 10-year period. Tarini cited that training measures are needed for the protection of all NCAA student-athletes from sudden death due to SCT.  This would lead to an equally beneficial situation.

In the 1970s, it was first identified by the US military linking SCT to overexertion. The military’s universal intervention program was a success in the preventing their recruits from dying suddenly.

Furthermore, from a 4-year cohort, researchers ascertained that screening 144, 181 student-athletes is required by the NCAA screening program to prevent 1 death. This would probably cost ranging $ 1.4 and $3 million. A similar universal intervention program with the US military may avoid overexertion (which may lead to other life-threatening conditions, like cardiovascular diseases) and all SCT-related deaths in the student-athlete population.

Finally, Tarini said that pushing oneself riskily, even when he exceeds beyond his capacity, is already part of sports culture. Since identification of risk may only lead to false feeling of security, monitoring and protection of health and safety of these student-athletes are crucial.




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