Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sickle Cell Testing by NCAA...What to do?

Recently, the NCAA issued guidelines which required mandatory sickle cell testing of athletes.  This was seen as taking a proactive step in insuring the overall health and well being of student athletes.

However, other reports are a bit contradictory.,  Additional read here.  NPR (yes, I'm getting old) reports here that the American Society of Hematology suggests that the NCAA integrate coping (read, counseling) services along with their testing.  Their additional suggestion?  That the NCAA models their program after the US Army.  The Army does not require testing (as of 1996), but does closely monitor a number of areas during physical activity, including acclimatization to heat, physical exertion and hydration status.  They also have mandatory rest periods.  Those specific areas are exactly within the domain of athletic trainers; and one would hope that all ATC's work closely with their athletic teams in providing practice guidelines in adverse and normal conditions.   I have been unable to find any documentation of sickle cell associated deaths within the Army, but it certainly begs the question, if the ASH recommends it, they must have a solid track record, right?  Let's hope so.

So what do you think?  Good move by the NCAA, or is more (or less) intervention needed?

1 comment:

  1. Heres my thought..from what I know most testing is done at a early age if one or both parents have the trait. However, to get it disclosed on a health form to participate in sports is viewed as having a defect and some athletes dont want to admit they have a problem (even though it is genetic). I think this is a ideal spot for the ATC to sit down one on one with each athlete go over the health history and explain why this information is important and gain their trust. informing them of the risks (which i a sure they know). Then have them sign th health form stating they went over it with the medical staff and all info is acurate. that waythere is no need to have expensive blood test and or unwarrented test.