Most non traumatic fatalities among high school and college football athletes do not occur while playing the game of football, but rather during conditioning sessions which are often associated with overexertion or punishment drills required by coaches and team staff, according to research presented today at the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. The research was present by Dr. Barry P. Boden of The Orthopaedic Center, Rockville, Md.
Non traumatic fatalities
Football is associated with the highest number of fatalities of any high school or college sport; but the number of traumatic injuries incurred while playing football have decline significantly since the 1960s. However, the annual number of non-traumatic fatalities has stay constant with current rates; so that are two to three times higher than traumatic fatalities.
Heat and sickle cell trait fatality rates were compare pre and post implementation of the NCAA; football acclimatization model in 2003 and sickle cell screening policies implement in 2010, respectively. Boden and his team review 187 non-traumatic football fatalities that occurr between 1998 and 2018. The researchers obtain information from extensive internet searches; so as well as depositions, investigations, autopsies, media and freedom of information reports.
Of the 187 fatalities, more than half (52%) were due to cardiac issues; 24% were cause by heat; and five percent from asthma. “The majority of deaths occurr outside of the regular season months of September through December; so with the most common month for fatalities being August,” Boden report.
Heat related fatalities
Boden said many of the fatalities had three issues in common: the conditioning sessions; hence were supervise by the football coach or strength and conditioning coach; irrationally intense workouts and/or punishment drills were schedule; and an inadequate medical response was implement. The average annual rate of heat relate fatalities remain unchanged at the collegiate level pre- and post-implementation of the NCAA football acclimatization model in 2003.
The average annual number of sickle cell trait deaths in collegiate football decline 58% after the 2010 NCAA sickle cell screening policies were implement. At the high school level, where there are no sickle cell guidelines; so the number of sickle cell fatalities increase 400% since 2010. The football acclimatization model implement by the NCAA in 2003 has fail at reducing exertional heat relate fatalities at the collegiate level.
Sickle cell trait screening policies adopt by the NCAA in 2010 have effective; hence at reducing fatalities in college athletes and similar guidelines should be mandate at the high school level. “Conditioning relate fatalities are preventable by establishing standards in workout design, holding coaches and strength and conditioning coaches accountable, ensuring compliance with current policies, and allowing athletic health care providers complete authority over medical decisions,” Boden reported.