Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
It is August and it is hot outside. Not just here in Arizona where we can expect the temperature to be in excess of 110 degrees (with a low temperature often around 90 degrees at night), but throughout the country. Already this fall there have been four high school football athletes and one coach die tragically due to the extreme physiological stress of the heat. The four football athletes all suffered from exertional heat stroke (a heat related illness which results in the core body temperature increasing to the point of internal organ damage), while the football coach suffered from an underlying heart condition that was exacerbated by the heat. While it has not been reported or indicated, these tragedies bring out the need to educate athletes of all ages on the effects that ergogenic supplements and energy drinks have on the human body. Many of these energy drinks have high levels of caffeine, along with taurine and gaurana, with the end result being an athlete whose central nervous system is greatly stimulated and one who dehydrates faster. With two-a-day practices where athletes are hitting in both practices, it is important to consider the role that fatigue plays. Fatigue will not only be caused by prolonged exercise, but it will also be greatened by dehydration. (Not allowing enough time for the body to rehydrate, along with ingesting ergogenic drinks that speed the urinary process facilitate this dehydration.) As the body fatigues, the amount of force necessary to create injury is lessened.
Considering the research publicized concerning concussive and non-concussive forces applied to the head during football and soccer, excessive hitting and practice can easily become a liability for the athletic program. The National Football League has practice limits. The NCAA has rules against consecutive two-a-day practices as well as the adoption of testing for sickle cell trait which may lead to sickling of the hemoglobin and excertional rhabdomolysis. Beyond this there is little or no consistency in regards to practice safety. Dr. Robert Cantu (Boston University), pioneer in the study and treatment of sport related traumatic head injuries, stated in an August 21, 2011 Washington Post article: “It’s inconceivable to me that you can take young scholar athletes at an age that is more vulnerable and have them play more dangerously than at the highest professional level.” Well said.
Friday, March 4, 2011
How many high school coaches/parents/athletes follow the motto of “no pain, no gain”? Many sports either purposely or mistakenly (they still do it, though) operate under a paradigm of toughness (physical and mental). This is an important aspect of sport which leads to many of the benefits that are derived from participation. But, when mistakes are made (exercise induced injuries are a result of mistakes) and the line is crossed resulting in athletes participating injured, the disposability of the athlete is exposed. There is always a new supply of athletes waiting for their turn to play.
Sometimes athletes become disposable out of a lack of knowledge. This lack of knowledge often comes from research that brings out new knowledge, or it may be a result of refusal to keep abreast of the current base of knowledge. There are many athletes who simply disappear from view due to the accumulation of multiple injuries such as head injuries. Until recently (the past few years), repetitive injuries to the brain were not considered significant by many due to the fact that diagnostic modalities could not detect an injury to the brain unless there was physical damage. The evidence is there now to definitively contradict that earlier thought, causing wonder to how much damage has been caused to how many athletes?
While sometimes it may be a lack of knowledge or limited financial backing, it may also be a result of greed (personal or corporate) that creates the disposable athlete. The higher levels of sport have large amounts of money involved from gate receipts, television rights, salaries, product endorsement, etc. The University of Connecticut is reported to have lost more then 1.5 million dollars in playing in their first ever BCS bowl game. It is unknown whether a loss such as this will have any affect on the health of the athlete or the athletic program. The National Football League and the National Football League Players Association are at odds, and facing a possible lockout, with one of the points being health benefits and over the number of games in the regular season (the increase of the number of regular season games to 18). The owners want to increase their profits, the athletes want to negotiate higher salaries and through this there will be a direct correlation between the number of games and the physical health to the body and brain. Even at the professional level, the athlete has become disposable. Amazing that at the beginning levels of sport and the elite levels of sport, money is often a factor in creating a disposable athlete.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Simply put, Exertional Rhabdomyolysis is a condition where unaccustomed excessive exercise results in the breakdown of muscle fibers leading to the release of excessive amounts myoglobin, potassium and creatine kinase into the blood stream. This may then result in renal failure and in extreme cases death. This condition is considered to be compounded in the athlete who carries the sickle cell trait.