Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cramps in the legs and back may be more serious.

Cramps in the legs and low back during exercise may not be just a benign case of fatigue. These cramps may be a result of exertional rhabdomyolysis, a rare but potentially deadly complication when an athlete with sickle cell trait over exerts. Sickle cell trait is different from sickle cell disease in the fact that the athlete only carries one gene of sickle cell hemoglobin and instead of the two that result in disease. They also have one gene for normal hemoglobin. During intense exercise (especially without proper hydration) the sickle hemoglobin may change the shape of the red blood cell causing it to sickle and decreasing its ability to transport oxygen. Without oxygen during exercise exertional rhabdomyolysis may result. Since cardiac muscle has some skeletal muscle properties, this muscle breakdown will affect the heart as well as the skeletal muscles (mainly legs and back). According to the Columbia Tribune (Missouri), 7 of the 19 non-traumatic NCAA football deaths have been attributed to complications of the sickle cell trait. There has been enough concern, that the NCAA has recommended testing for the sickle cell trait in their pre-participation physicals. With dehydration being a complicating factor with the sickle cell trait, it may be a good idea for testing for this condition be apart of interscholastic sport as well as collegiate. National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Consensus Statement.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Youth Sport Safety Alliance

Youth sport is in a crisis state due to the rising number of injuries that are sustained. This crisis has reached the point where it has become imperative that action must be taken in an effort to protect the athlete. In January, 2010, the “Alliance to Address Youth Sports Safety” summit was held to examine this crisis and to raise awareness of the health care concerns of the youth athlete. This summit was spearheaded by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and supported by 29 health and sport organizations. With in excess of 7 million interscholastic high school athletes participating in sport, there are close to three fourths of a million sport-related injuries. In 2008 and 2009 there were 120 sport related deaths from conditions such as: brain injury, heat illness and sudden cardiac arrest. This is a true crisis state! From this summit the Youth Sport Alliance has issued a call to action. Information gleaned from the collective knowledge of the professionals in this alliance is valuable and needs to be processed out in an effort to raise awareness of the youth athlete injury crisis. Only by raising awareness, will the current sport paradigm be altered in a way to make the health of the athlete the center of importance.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The fine line between performance and dangerous

The February 10 edition of the New York Times has a feature titled “Tempting Fate”. Athletes will naturally try to perform at their best and attempt new skills. Somewhere there is a fine line between superior performance and reckless or dangerous performance. The elite athlete has found this line which has allowed them to achieve their level of greatness. Even so, it only takes a minute mistake that causes one to cross that fine line and there is exposure to injury. Kevin Pearce is an example of this. While practicing a new trick(double cork) on the Halfpipe, Shaun White made a slight mistake resulted in a fall that that is similar to Kevin Pearce's fall that caused a traumatic brain injury. This TBI may also injure any chances for Kevin to ever participate in this sport again. Athletes will always push themselves to achieve greatness in their sport. It is important that in their effort to improve and achieve greatness, these athletes are given an environment that is safe for them to perform. In our current social climate that demands excitement and entertainment in everything we do, sometimes the welfare of the athlete seems to become only a secondary concern. On Friday, 2/12/10, the opening day of the 2010 Winter Olympics, there has already been an accident that claimed the life of luge athlete from the Republic of Georgia. The sad comment here is that the athletes have previously complained that the course was too fast and dangerous.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

There is no such thing as a mild brain injury.

Time magazine has provided the influence of a major news magazine in educating athletes, potential athletes, parents and fans on inherent dangers of repetitive blows to the head in contact/collision sports like football. The feature "The Problem with Football: How to Make It Safer", provides a good solid scientific analysis of the cumulative effects of repetitive concussive forces that the brain goes through hit after hit, day after day on the football field and is presented in a literary manner that is easy for the nonscientist to comprehend. As more information is disseminated with regards to multiple concussive impacts and their relationship to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (also referred to as CTE), more coaches, parents and athletes will gain understanding and be able to make informed decisions when given the options presented to them by healthcare providers.

Within this article, there is a video well worth the 9 ½ minutes in length. This is Your Brain on Football.

While this article (along with the majority of current media attention) is centered on the sport of football, it is important to note that cerebral concussion injuries do occur in other sports. Coaches and parents need to assist in recognizing the signs and symptoms of a concussion since many athletes will not report the injury. There is no such thing as a mild brain injury.