May 14, 2007
Some schools have had reminders up for weeks or months. In
order to be ready to participate in school sports for the
next school year, now is the time to schedule a
"preparticipation physical examination."
"In the sports medicine field, the sports physical exam is
known as a preparticipation physical examination (PPE). The
exam helps determine whether it's safe for you to
participate in a particular sport. Most states actually
require that kids and teens have a sports physical before
they can start a new sport or begin a new competitive
season. But even if a PPE isn't required, doctors still
highly recommend them. ... There are two main parts to a
sports physical: the medical history and the physical exam.
The medical history form is one that students should fill
out by talking with both parents, if at all possible. The
physical exam may vary based on the gender and specific
health status of each potential athlete.
Even with information about the student's family history
and a physical exam, some health conditions go undetected
until there is a problem.
"A 13-year-old girl who died after becoming ill at track
practice was the third teenager to die this spring in
Wisconsin during a track workout. ... Alysa Sadowski, a
seventh-grader, had finished a run during the last practice
of the season Wednesday and complained she wasn't feeling
well. When Sadowski didn't have the strength to walk, team
members alerted the coaches. They called an ambulance and
the girl's mother, Childs said. Sadowski died later,
apparently of cardiac arrhythmia ... Adam Luing, a high
school junior, died April 17 after collapsing during track
practice in Ontario ... Jason Schultz, a senior at Stevens
Point Area High School, collapsed after running sprints
with other shot putters during a practice and complained of
not feeling well. He was rushed to a hospital but couldn't
be revived. ..."
School districts are looking for ways to reduce the
likelihood of such tragedies.
"Some schools may require that a PPE include an
electrocardiogram, or EKG, for all athletes. An EKG, which
takes about 10 minutes, measures the electrical activity of
a person's heart. EKGs don't hurt -- electrodes that
measure heart rate and rhythm are placed on the chest,
arms, and legs, and a specialist reads the results."
Preventative measures (such as a PPE and EKG) help doctors,
parents, athletes, and coaches make educated decisions
about whether or not they think it will be safe for the
athlete to participate in a given sport.
Unfortunately, no screening is perfect, and there is still
the chance of a medical emergency. For this reason, schools
try not only to prevent, but to prepare.
"* Each student-athlete must have a current (within one
calendar year) medical certificate on file before the first
day of participation (tryouts, practices).
* A physician must be present prior to the start of all
football games (league and non-league) and must be present
until the completion of the contest. ...
* A PSAL [Public Schools Athletic league] authorized
football teacher/coach (with current AED, First Aid and CPR
certifications) must be present at every game, practice and
scrimmage. A defibulator must be on the field for every
practice and game.
* Both teams are responsible for having their defibulators
on site in the bench area!"
Public School Athletic League
Within the past few years, AEDs have become more and more
common, even to the point of being required at most
sporting events and some practices.
"An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable
automatic device used to restore normal heart rhythm to
patients in cardiac arrest. An AED is applied outside the
body. It automatically analyzes the patient's heart rhythm
and advises the rescuer whether or not a shock is needed to
restore a normal heart beat. If the patient's heart resumes
beating normally, the heart has been defibrillated. An AED
is used to treat cardiac arrest. It is a life-saving device
because cardiac arrest is a sudden condition that is fatal
if not treated within a few minutes."
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
For many, cardiac arrest is a condition they associate with
older adults, not with those in their teens and early 20s
who are participating in jr. high, high school, and college
"DALLAS, April 3, 2007 Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)
affects more than 400,000 people annually in the United
States and is the leading cause of death among young
athletes. ... 'Unfortunately sudden cardiac arrest can be
mistaken for other causes of collapse, which can lead to
treatment delays,' said Ron Courson, ATC, task force
co-chairman.� 'Increased training will help rescuers
correctly identify SCA and prevent critical delays in
beginning resuscitation. In fact, access to defibrillation
within three to five minutes is essential, because each
minute lost reduces the chance of survival by approximately
10 percent.' "
National Athletic Trainers Association
If people at the scene do not think to associate SCA with
young athletes, then treatment time can be lost and the
chances of saving the patient decrease.
With so many possible things that could go wrong, and so
many individual variables, those involved with school
sports are being asked to know and do more and more to help
create the safest possible environment.
"First and foremost every institution that sponsors
athletic activities is urged to have a written and
structured emergency action plan (EAP) in place... The key
to successful treatment for SCA begins with appropriate
emergency preparedness, CPR and AED training for all likely
first responders, along with access to early
defibrillation. Essential components of SCA management
include early activation of EMS, early CPR, early
defibrillation and rapid transition to advanced cardiac
life support. In fact, any collapsed and unresponsive
athlete should be managed as a sudden cardiac arrest with
application of an AED as soon as possible for rhythm
analysis and defibrillation if needed."
National Athletic Trainers Association
Questions of the Week:
What do you need to know about your own health and medical
history before deciding whether or not to participate in
school sports? What do you need to do to get this
information? What emergency response procedures does your
school have set up to deal with health issues that would
need immediate attention at a school sponsored game, meet,
or practice? What should the athletes know about these
procedures? What should the coaches know? Parents?
Spectators? What can you do to educate those around you and
create the safest possible school sports environment?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum