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.

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

Recent News
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Commutes on Foot or Bike Tied to Lowered Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke

People who regularly add walking or cycling into parts of a longer commute or journey may reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke, according to a study from the United Kingdom that followed more than 350,000 people for seven years. (Reuters Health)

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America’s Fittest Cities

The 11th annual American College of Sports Medicine fitness index ranked U.S. cities for their residents’ healthy behaviors. The top 5: Arlington, VA; Minneapolis, MN; Washington D.C.; Madison, WI; and Portland, OR. Seattle came in one-tenth of a point behind Portland at #6. (King5)

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Neuropsychologist Shares Pro Hockey Players’ Secrets to Resilience

Professional hockey players who recover quickly after a concussion are the ones who take responsibility for their own health. One of their first questions after an injury is, “What do I have to do?” (Forbes)

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Doctors Often Skip Discussing Dangers of Driving After Concussion

Most doctors who treat young athletes for concussion know that the injury increases the risk of having a car accident, but barely half counsel their patients against driving, a U.S. study suggests. (Reuters Health)

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High School Coaches, Players Know Little About Concussion

Most high school coaches, players and parents do not know that a concussion is a brain injury. But they generally understand the importance of being symptom-free before returning to play and the potential effects of repeated concussions. (HealthDay)

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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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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.

Cold water baths for heat stroke: Every minute counts

Cooling an overheated athlete fast can be the difference between life and death. The most effective method is cold water immersion. Know how to be prepared for this medical emergency.

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.

Learning Center: Training in the heat

For additional in-depth information, tips and tools on the prevention, recognition and treatment of exertional heat illness, check out our Learning Center.

EXERCISE IS MEDICINE
FOR THE BRAIN

Exercise Can Help Treat Mood Disorders. Here’s Why, and How to Get Started.

A growing body of research shows that exercise can be as effective as medication and psychotherapy in treating mood disorders, depression and anxiety—without the side effects. (Washington Post)

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The States That Exercise Least

The CDC found that the percentage of people who get enough exercise varies greatly by state, from a low of 13.5 percent of adults in Mississippi to a high of 32.5 percent in Colorado. (The Atlantic)

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You Can Get Even More Out of Strength Training Than Killer Abs

People who strength train for at least two non-consecutive days a week have significantly fewer symptoms of mild to moderate depression, according to a recent review. (Runner’s World)

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Commutes on Foot or Bike Tied to Lowered Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke

People who regularly add walking or cycling into parts of a longer commute or journey may reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke, according to a study from the United Kingdom that followed more than 350,000 people for seven years. (Reuters Health)

Read More

America’s Fittest Cities

The 11th annual American College of Sports Medicine fitness index ranked U.S. cities for their residents’ healthy behaviors. The top 5: Arlington, VA; Minneapolis, MN; Washington D.C.; Madison, WI; and Portland, OR. Seattle came in one-tenth of a point behind Portland at #6. (King5)

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Using Behavioral Science to Build an Exercise Habit

Fewer than half of Americans exercise as much as they should. Thankfully, the field of behavioral science has solutions to offer. (Scientific American)

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How Much Exercise Your Kid Needs, Based On the Latest Research

What types of physical activity should kids and teens do, and how do you get young people excited about exercise? “The main message is that children and adolescents need to be physically active daily and to take this habit into adulthood.” (CNN)

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Standing Up at Your Desk Could Make You Smarter

A new study has found that sitting is bad for your brain. And it might be the case that lots of exercise is not enough to save you if you’re a couch potato the rest of the time. (New York Times)

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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)

Guidelines on fluid replacement. This 2017 position stand provides evidence-based recommendations on best hydration practices for active people. (National Athletic Trainers’ Association)

Nutrition and athletic performance. Guidance on food, fluids and supplements to take for peak health and performance across a range of training and competition scenarios. (American College of Sports Medicine and American Dietetic Association)

National high school guidelines on hydration and training in heat.This position stand describes how to hydrate before, during, and after physical activity, as well as risk factors for overheating. (National Federation of State High School Associations)

NCAA guidelines on training in the heat. The NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook includes detailed recommendations on the prevention and treatment of exertional heat illness. See Guideline 2C: Prevention of heat illness, pp. 39-42 in the current edition. (National Collegiate Athletic Association)

Getting Kids to a Good Weight by 13 May Help Avoid Diabetes

Overweight boys who get to a healthy weight by age 13 have the same risk of developing diabetes in adulthood as someone who never weighed too much. (US News)

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Year-long Diet Study Finds It’s What You Eat, Not How Much

Research from Stanford University shows that neither low-fat nor low-carb diets are key to sustained weight loss among overweight adults. Instead, it’s back to basics: avoid refined wheat and sugar, and eat more vegetables. (University of Washington)

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Why Is It so Hard to Lose Weight and Keep It Off?

Why exactly are some people able to maintain a healthy weight while others can try and try with no luck? The process of weight gain and weight loss involves a complicated combination of genetics, complex body systems and the environment. (University of Washington)

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Dangers of Energy Drinks for Kids

Energy drinks may be dangerous for kids and young adults, a new survey found. The most common problems included a fast heartbeat, insomnia and headaches. (MedPage Today)

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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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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


A Hoop Player’s Sudden Return from Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Fewer than 8 percent of those who suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive. But this high school basketball player did—because there was an automated external defibrillator on hand and people who knew how to use it. (Rivard Report)

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Surprisingly High Number of NBA Players Have Abnormal Heart Scans

Heart data from elite basketball players show that a surprising number have abnormalities—but these results are likely false positives that don’t take into account how the heart changes during training, according to researchers. (The Verge)

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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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