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UNC report: Heat-related deaths in high school football players dip, but all are preventable
Date:7/30/2008

CHAPEL HILL You could say two is a small number.

But that's still two too many for Frederick O. Mueller, Ph.D., professor of exercise and sports science in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The figure represents the number of reported cases of heat stroke deaths among high school level football players in 2007. To Mueller, it also represents two young lives unnecessarily lost: one was 17-years-old; the other, just 16.

"There's no excuse for any number of heat stroke deaths, since they are all preventable with the proper precautions," said Mueller, the author of the Annual Survey of Football Injuries, a long-running compilation of statistics that tracks major injuries and deaths in 1.8 million football players on middle school, high school, college, sandlot (organized, non-school affiliated) and professional teams. The report is produced by the UNC-based National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, of which Mueller is director.

The figures take to 33 the total number of football players who have died from heat stroke since 1995 (25 high school, 5 college, 2 professional and one sandlot).

With summer now in full swing and football training sessions kicking into gear, the latest annual report serves as a stark reminder of the precautions that coaches and players need to take when practicing and playing in the heat.

Mueller's report offers the following advice for helping prevent heat-related deaths:

  • Require each athlete to have a physical and know if an athlete has a history of heat-related illness; such players are more susceptible to heat stroke. Overweight players are also at higher risk.
  • Acclimatize players to the heat slowly; North Carolina mandates that the first three days of practice be done without uniforms.
  • Alter practice schedules to avoid long workouts in high-humidity.

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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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