Athletes

We provide materials to help you make informed decisions about the health and safety of sports.

This information will help you understand the risks that come with different sports. It will help you recognize and, in some cases, prevent injuries to yourself or your teammates.  It will also help you participate in decisions about your treatment and return to sports if you have an injury.

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Concussion
Exercise & Health
Nutrition & Hydration
Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Learning Center

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Concussion management video A 15-minute video on the importance of understanding concussions and guidelines for removal from play and return to play after a concussion. Stanley Herring, MD, director of SHSI, serves as host.

Pocket Concussion Recognition Tool. A sideline tool to help parents, coaches and athletes recognize a concussion and know when a brain injury is an emergency.

Heads Up: Built for tablets and smartphones, “Rocket Blades” is a visually appealing experience with fun gameplay that entertains kids 6-8 while teaching about concussions.

Heads Up to Youth Sports: Athletes. An extensive set of resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They include:

Heads Up: A fact sheet for middle-school athletes A two-page handout on recognizing concussion symptoms, what to do if you think you have a concussion and how to help yourself and your team.

Heads Up: A fact sheet for high school athletes A two-page handout on recognizing concussion symptoms, what to do if you think you have a concussion and how to help yourself and your team.

Heads Up: Facts about Concussion and Brain Injury. A 20-page brochure about concussion, its signs and symptoms, tips for healing and where to get help.

Español

Heads Up: Hoja Informativa para los Atletas (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Recent News
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Faulty Positioning in Rugby Tackles Boosts Injury Risk

Head, neck and shoulder injuries during rugby tackles are more common when the tackler’s head is incorrectly positioned in front of the ball carrier. Athletes employing recommended techniques had significantly fewer injuries. (Reuters Health)

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State Laws Have Reduced Concussion Risks In High School Kids, Study Finds

Laws spearheaded by the director of UW Medicine’s Sports Health and Safety Institute, Stan Herring, MD, and colleagues have led to a noticeable nationwide decline in repeated concussions among teenage athletes. (Washington Post)

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Can You Predict Future Brain Damage? Hundreds of Pro Fighters Are Helping Researchers Find Out

The ambitious goal: to identify early signs of trauma-induced brain damage from subtle changes in blood chemistry, brain imaging and performance tests — changes that may show up decades before visible symptoms such as cognitive impairment, depression and impulsive behavior. (STAT)

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Concussion Recovery Is Slower in Girls, Mounting Evidence Suggests

Recent findings suggest female children and adolescents are more susceptible to head injuries, and may take longer to recover. (Scientific American)

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Understanding Heat Stroke in 7 Steps

Athletes can develop life-threatening exertional heat stroke for a variety of reasons, but virtually none is acceptable among trainers and coaches who put player safety first. Summer training deaths from heat stroke serve as regular, harsh reminders of the importance of knowing how to prevent, recognize and properly treat this devastating condition.

EXERCISE IS MEDICINE
FOR THE BRAIN

Beat the summer heat

In this compilation of stories, find out what science says about training in the summer. Learn what you need to know about proper hydration in the heat, avoiding and treating debilitating heat cramps,  and the prevention, recognition and treatment of life-threatening heat stroke.

 

Cycling Does Not Harm Men’s Sexual Health, Study Says

Cycling does not negatively affect men’s sexual health or urinary function, a study has found. Researchers compared cyclists with runners and swimmers and found their sexual and urinary health was comparable. (BBC)

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Feeling Fit: There’s an App for That!

In this timely review, learn about the latest technology for working out or tracking personal wellness—From Apple Health and Google Fit to fitness apps and wearable trackers and smartwatches. (University of Washington)

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Why Sitting May Be Bad for Your Heart

Sitting quietly for extended periods of time could be hurting your heart, according to a surprising new study. It finds that the more people sit, the greater the likelihood that they will show signs of injury to their heart muscles. (New York Times)

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Does Exercise Burn More Calories In the Cold than In Warm Weather?

The claim: Exercising in the cold burns more calories than exercising in warmer temperatures, making it easier to lose weight. But the science is more complicated than you might think. (STAT)

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2 New Studies Show that Even Light Activity Is Healthier than Previously Thought

As if you needed another reason to make fitness your New Year’s resolution: Two recent mortality studies have produced evidence that exercise — even light activity such as vacuuming or walking the dog — is even healthier than previously believed. The most active subjects had a 50 to 70…

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When It Comes to Physical Activity, the Gap between the Haves and Have-Nots Is Growing

If you reside in a household that earns less than $50,000 annually, you are far less likely to be active than those in wealthier homes, according to a new report. (Forbes)

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Hydration in the heat for young athletes

Young athletes, parents and coaches frequently ask about safe ways to hydrate in the heat. They want to know how much—and what—to drink to safely perform at their best.

The answers aren’t simple. The scientific research is inconclusive, and experts disagree.

To help sort out the science and provide practical advice, we talked to E. Randy Eichner, M.D., professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center and former team internist for the Oklahoma Sooners football team. Eichner spent 14 years caring for Sooners football players in dauntingly hot conditions. And for three years he also served as a physician for the Hawaii Ironman, one of the longest, most grueling, and hottest athletic competitions in the U.S.

Muscle cramping in the heat

Muscle cramping is the bane of athletes playing in the heat. This painful problem can range from annoying to disabling. Find out why they happen, and how to prevent them from happening again in the future. Experts urge players who are at risk to salt their food and eat healthful salt-rich foods. Fad remedies can delay proper care.

Learning Center

Hydration. This site includes videos and information on hydration, including how to know if an athlete is hydrated, how much to drink and what to drink. (Korey Stringer Institute)

Hydration Kit. This two-page handout lists hydration supplies, from electrolyte freezer pops to pumper-style cooling stations. The handout provides prices and links to websites where individuals or teams can purchase them. (Korey Stringer Institute)

Exercise and fluid replacement. ACSM Position Stand. In-depth information and recommendations on hydration for athletes written by the leading experts in the field. (American College of Sports Medicine)

Recent News
& More

Dangers of Energy Drinks for Kids

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‘Raw water’ Is the Latest Health Craze. Here’s Why Drinking It May Be a Bad Idea

By shunning recommended water safety practices, raw water purveyors may also be selling things you don’t want to drink that can make you sick. (Washington Post)

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What You Should Know Before Trying an Elimination Diet

Elimination diets, like the popular Whole30 diet, can help you find out how certain foods make you feel, and potentially reduce gastrointestinal distress. If you’re considering starting one, this is what you should know before cleaning out your fridge. (University of Washington)

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Can Ketones Rev Up Our Workouts?

A new study suggests that ketone supplements may not work as advertised and could have the kinds of gastrointestinal side effects that make starting, let alone completing, an event almost impossible. (New York Times)

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Risky Stimulants Turn Up—Again—In Weight Loss and Workout Supplements

A new study reports potentially dangerous pharmaceutical ingredients turning up in products that consumers can easily order online or pick up from retail shelves. (STAT)

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 Just How Bad Is Sugar for You, Really?

Why exactly is sugar so bad for you and so hard to avoid? Here’s what you should know about the added sugar that’s lurking in your diet. (University of Washington)

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The High-protein Craze May Actually Carry Some Risks

Experts say some people may be harmed by high-protein diets—but most get plenty of protein in their normal diets, and needn’t add more. (Washington Post)

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Six Key Facts

Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one cause of sudden death in exercising young athletes.

It usually strikes without warning in individuals with a structural or electrical abnormality of the heart, often inherited. Males, African-Americans and male basketball players appear to be at increased risk.

 

No method of detecting heart problems in athletes is perfect.

A complete medical history and physical exam are required for all young athletes before they participate in sports. Some medical experts are adding a screening electrocardiogram (EKG) to the standard pre-participation physical exam.

In some cases, warning signs or symptoms can help identify an athlete at risk of a sudden cardiac arrest.

Signs of a potentially risky heart condition include fainting or passing out during exercise; extreme shortness of breath or chest pain with exercise; palpitations (heart racing) for no reason; and unexplained seizures.

Until proven otherwise, you should suspect sudden cardiac arrest in any collapsed and unresponsive athlete.

Unless effective emergency steps are taken immediately, the athlete will die or be left with serious brain damage.

Every team should have—and practice—an emergency action plan for sudden cardiac arrest.

It is critical that your coach review and practice the emergency action plan in the preseason with all of the people who may be involved in the emergency response.

Life-saving measures include calling 9-1-1, immediate chest compressions (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and shocking the athlete with an AED as soon as possible.

Early initiation of all of these measures is important. Early shock (defibrillation) with an automated external defibrillator (AED) is the most important factor for survival. A few minutes’ delay can be the difference between life and death.


Sudden cardiac arrest: Know the danger

Every two to three days in the U.S., a young athlete dies as the result of sudden cardiac arrest. In fact, sudden cardiac arrest is the number one cause of sudden death in exercising young athletes.

In most cases, the arrest occurs with no warning. In the midst of play or practice, the athlete suddenly collapses. And if appropriate action is not taken within minutes, the athlete will die or be left with serious brain damage.

This information is for you if you want to learn about the causes of sudden cardiac arrest and the athletes who are at greatest risk. Being aware of the danger is the first step in preparing to save a teammate’s life.

Recent News
& More


Cardiac Arrest Rare In Young Athletes but Tough to Predict

Young athletes have a very low risk of suffering a fatal cardiac arrest. But more important, researchers found that more than 80 percent of cases probably won’t be caught through “pre-participation screening” that includes electrocardiograms to detect electrical abnormalities in the heart. (HealthDay)

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This Mistake Can Cost the Lives of Athletes in Cardiac Arrest

Athletes are dying from cardiac arrests that occur during play because teammates, coaches and other bystanders don’t know how to best save their lives, a new study claims. (Chicago Tribune)

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Heart Screening for Teens May Cause More Problems than It Solves

Dozens of not-for-profit organizations have formed in the past decade to promote free or low-cost heart screenings for teens. The groups often claim such tests save lives by finding abnormalities that might pose a risk of sudden cardiac death. (NPR)

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Olympic Athletes Have Heart Problems, Too

Some Olympic athletes could be at risk while training and competing because of heart defects or dysfunction that they may not even know about, Italian researchers say. (Reuters Health)

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Bystander CPR Improves Survival and Neurological Outcomes in U.S. Children

A study of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests supports conventional CPR (chest compressions and rescue breaths) for children, and finds that white children were significantly more likely to receive bystander CPR than black or Hispanic children. (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)

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