The safety of student athletes is a top priority for schools, but a study by UConn’s Korey Stringer Institute shows improvements still need to be made.
Evaluating the implementation of evidence-based best practices for preventing and managing the leading causes of sudden death in secondary school athletics (comprised of sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heat stroke, and exertional sickling), the Korey Stringer Institute produced a ranking of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The study and findings is published by the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine.
Each state was assessed based on five equally weighted sections pertaining to sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heat stroke, appropriate medical coverage, and emergency preparedness. Access the 2017 High School Sports Safety Policy Rankings.
“The bottom line is that many simple policy changes can have a massive impact when a life is saved,” says 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.”
Casa notes that progress is slow because most states only make a change after a tragedy. But he stresses that the policies KSI promotes are not difficult to adopt.
“It is a matter of convincing people that these issues are important and that they need attention,” he says.
Responding to Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Emergency action plans are important for schools to have documented (and practiced) when it comes to responding to cardiac arrest incidents, but prevention action plans are just as important. For Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the KSI survey focuses on screening in the form of PPE questions and physician clearance and AED onsite or accessible within 1-3 minutes. Preventative EKGs and echocardiograms aren’t considerations. This testing isn’t a national standard yet, but when will it be?
Undiagnosed heart conditions are responsible for numerous young athlete deaths throughout the country, but there is no mandate requiring states to perform cardiac testing on student athletes, despite the occurrence of cardiac events continuing to happen to students, often with no prior symptoms—all having been cleared for play as a result of the PPE and sports physical.
More needs to be done to keep young athletes safe, and you can help. Fill out the form below to tell us you want your school to take the extra step to protect your students, your athletes, and your children by having their hearts tested.