Monday, May 13th, 2013
The number one killer of young athletes is not concussion- or head injury-related, a group of youth sports safety advocates announced at a recent conference in Washington, DC. Instead, sudden cardiac arrest, typically brought on by a pre-existing, detectable condition that could have been treated, is the culprit in most sports-related deaths. Another lethal threat is heat stroke, which is considered to be completely preventable. The New York Times reports on the findings, and how safety advocates are trying to raise awareness of these risks:
Concussions are receiving attention nationwide, but death from a blow to the head is exceedingly rare. In contrast, a young athlete dies from a cardiac incident once every three days in the United States, researchers say. In hot months like August, heat stroke often causes the death of a young athlete every other day on average.
“Concussion victims almost always get a second chance,” said Laura Friend, an attendee at the Washington summit whose 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, died of sudden cardiac arrest while swimming at a Texas community pool in 2004. “When your heart fails from something that could have been treated — which happens all the time — you don’t have another chance. As someone told me, sudden cardiac arrest is not rare; surviving it is.”
Heat stroke, also known as exertional heat illness, has been a focus of sports safety advocates because of simple, common-sense preventive measures, like introducing gradual levels of exercise at the beginning of a sports season in hot temperatures.
“When my son died, people treated it as a freak thing,” said Rhonda Fincher, whose 13-year-old son, Kendrick, died in 1995 from heat stroke sustained during a season-opening football practice in northwestern Arkansas. “The ignorance was unacceptable because, unfortunately, it is not infrequent. And we should all know that.
“No healthy child should be sent off to a routine practice and die from it.”
Leaders of youth sports acknowledge that concussions have long been overlooked and that the injury deserves a period of heightened awareness, especially because of the potential for long-term consequences. But as the focus of the February conference organized by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association suggests, there is a mounting worry that more hazardous health concerns are being disregarded because of the intense emphasis on brain injuries.
A sudden heart-related death is “so incredibly tragic and stunning that people aren’t comfortable putting it into the everyday conversation,” said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, the president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.
“I do wish, to some extent, it was something people talked more about,” Drezner added, “because we are getting to a place where we could prevent many of these deaths.”
Image: Girl with soccer ball, via Shutterstock
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Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Practicing regularly is a key component of team sports, but there can be too much of a good thing, a new study conducted by researchers at Loyola University Medical Center in suburban Chicago has found, because excessive athletic activity while young bodies are still developing can lead to injuries with lifelong consequences. More from NBC News:
[The study] found that young athletes who spent more hours per week than their age playing one sport – such as a 12-year-old who plays tennis 13 or more hours a week – were 70 percent more likely to get serious overuse injuries of the back, shoulder or elbow, than other injuries.
“We should be cautious about intense specialization in one sport before and during adolescence,” Loyola sports medicine physician Dr. Neeru Jayanthi said. He presented his study on Friday at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) meeting in San Diego.
“Young athletes should not spend more hours per week in organized sports than their ages,” he said.
Between 2010 and 2013, Jayanthi and colleagues at Loyola and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago enrolled 1,206 athletes ages 8 to 18, who had physicals or treatment for injuries.
There were 859 total injuries, including 564 overuse injuries, of which 139 were serious stress fractures in the back or limbs, elbow ligament injuries and osteochondral injuries to cartilage and underlying bone.
Dan Gould, director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University hailed the study as providing data on the dangers of pressing children to succeed earlier at a particular sport.
“It’s not bad for a kid to start a recreational sport at four, but specializing? We are seeing more ‘Little League pitching elbow’ from repeated exposure,” he said, referring to a common injury in young pitchers trying to throw faster fastballs and curveballs that can distort the arm muscles and joints.
Image: Kids playing baseball, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Kerri Walsh Jennings, part of the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball team, won her third consecutive Olympic gold medal at this summer’s London games…while 5 weeks pregnant. The athlete went on the Today show to announce the news this morning:
“When I was throwing my body around fearlessly, and going for gold for our country, I was pregnant, and today I’m 11 weeks pregnant,” Walsh Jennings told Matt Lauer.
Their baby, due April 9, will join the couple’s sons, Joey, 3, and Sundance, 2.
Walsh Jennings, 34, told TODAY.com she and Casey started trying for a third before the Olympics. But she didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. She said she felt “moody and touchy” in London — more than could just be explained by competition stress — and her period was four days late.
“You’re probably pregnant,” her beach volleyball partner, Misty May-Treanor, said. And sure enough, her teammate was right.
“It’s just so exciting,” Walsh Jennings told TODAY.com.
Click here for more on this story and another remarkable story about a mom who got pregnant while undergoing cancer treatments.
Click here for more on Olympian mothers.
Image: Volleyball, via Shutterstock
CORRECTION: Kerri Walsh Jennings became pregnant before, not at, the Olympics. This headline was edited to reflect that correction on 9/28.
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Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
A 14-year-old Canadian girl has completed the 27-hour, 31.6-mile swim across Lake Ontario. CNN.com reports on Annaleise Carr, who is the youngest swimmer ever to complete the swim:
Annaleise began her charity swim at 6:17 p.m. ET Saturday at Niagara-on-the-Lake. She climbed out of the water at Toronto’s Marilyn Bell Park two minutes before 9 p.m. Sunday.
The teenager did not speak to the gathered crowd after her swim, instead going to the hospital for a standard check-up, a spokesman said.
Staff in a kayak and an inflatable boat accompanied her to shore.
CNN affiliate CTV said Annaliese was allowed breaks during her swim so she could eat, but she had to stay in the water.
The teenager did her swim for charity, aiming to raise $30,000 for Camp Trillium, a childhood cancer center. As of 5:23 p.m. Sunday, she had raised close to $80,000, according to her parents, who were updating her progress online each step of the way.
“Unbelievable!!!!!” her parents wrote on her website, Annaleise’s Lake Ontario Crossing. “We are so proud!!!”
Image: Lake, via Shutterstock
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