Study: Ath­letes not fully pro­tected

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE -

NEW YORK — A study con­ducted by the Korey Stringer In­sti­tute shows that many in­di­vid­ual states are not fully im­ple­ment­ing key safety guide­lines to pro­tect high school ath­letes from po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions, in­clud­ing heat stroke.

More than 7.8 mil­lion high school stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in sanc­tioned sports an­nu­ally. KSI an­nounced the results Tues­day at a news con­fer­ence at NFL head­quar­ters. The league par­tially spon­sors the in­sti­tute.

The state- by- state sur­vey showed North Carolina with the most com­pre­hen­sive health and safety poli­cies at 79 per­cent, fol­lowed by Ken­tucky at 71 per­cent. At the bot­tom were Colorado (23 per­cent) and Cal­i­for­nia (26 per­cent). Those scores were based on a state meet­ing best prac­tice guide­lines ad­dress­ing the four ma­jor causes of sud­den death for that age group: car­diac ar­rest, trau­matic head in­juries, ex­er­tional heat stroke and ex­er­tional sick­ling oc­cur­ring in ath­letes with sickle cell trait.

“The bot­tom line is that many sim­ple pol­icy changes can have a mas­sive im­pact when a life is saved,” said Dr. Dou­glas Casa of KSI. “That is the goal of KSI in re­leas­ing these rank­ings, to pre­vent need­less deaths in high school sports. We have had count­less con­ver­sa­tions with loved ones who have lost a child/sib­ling/grand­child/ath­lete. If these rank­ings can get more kids home for din­ner in­stead of to a hos­pi­tal or morgue, then we have suc­ceeded.”

The in­sti­tute is a sports safety re­search and ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion lo­cated at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut and named af­ter the for­mer Vik­ings star who died from ex­er­tional heat stroke in 2001.

Sud­den car­diac ar­rest is the lead­ing cause of death for the age range.

Casa noted that progress is slow be­cause most states only make a change af­ter a tragedy. But he stressed that the poli­cies KSI pro­motes are not dif­fi­cult to adopt.

“At least one state has adopted each in­di­vid­ual item, and for many items, more than half of the states have the pol­icy in place,” he said. “So this tells us it is fea­si­ble (to max­i­mize pro­tec­tion). Now we need to col­lec­tively get states to learn from their col­leagues and adapt these (pro­grams) in their own state. Our top state is at about 80 per­cent, show­ing that, with ef­fort, these poli­cies can be im­ple­mented.”

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