Screening for Sickle Cell recommended by National Athletic Trainer's Association

Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary condition is found in an estimated 8 to 10 percent of African-Americans. Sickle-shaped blood cells carry less oxygen and can clog blood vessels that flow to the heart and other muscles. In 2007, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association recommended that college teams screen athletes for the inherited blood disorder, noting some trainers mistake the injury for heat exhaustion, muscle cramps or heart problems according to an AP report.

At least 10 athletes have died in the past eight years, ranging in age from 12 to 19, according to a study from the association. The study also notes the deaths of 13 college football players at schools that did not test for sickle cell trait or had “a lapse in precautions.” “The hereditary condition has been linked to heatstroke and exercise-induced collapse” according to the 3/13/09 USA Today Sports section article (“Missouri settles with dead player’s family for $2 million”) discussed in yesterday’s post.

The settlement in the Missouri case discussed in yesterday’s post came the same day a similar lawsuit was filed in Orange County, Florida against the University of Central Florida. Redshirt Freshman wide receiver Ereck Plancher died after an off season conditioning session. An autopsy showed that this athlete also had the sickle cell trait.

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