Entries in Student Athletes (3)


Former College Athletes Sue NCAA over Concussions

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Four former college athletes are suing the NCAA, as first reported by The New York Times, alleging that the association sacrificed the safety of student athletes by failing to establish concussion-screening guidelines and return-to-play rules.

“The NCAA has engaged in a long-established pattern of negligence and inaction with respect to concussions and concussion-related maladies sustained by its student-athletes, all the while profiting immensely from those same student-athletes,” reads the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The suit claims one of the plaintiffs, 25-year-old Adrian Arrington, had to drop out of Eastern Illinois University because of concussions he suffered on the football field.  Arrington, a hard-hitting strong safety, finished his career with 154 tackles as well as five concussions he blames for memory loss, seizures, depression and almost daily migraines.

“One brain injury is bad, two is worse and three is worse still,” said Dr. Steven Flanagan, professor of rehabilitation medicine and chairman of NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine.  “In sports, these chronic blows to the head add up.  It’s a bigger problem, I think, than people realize.”

Because college athletes aren’t compensated the same way as professional athletes, the suit seeks cash to cover medical bills and financial losses for Arrington, as well as former football players Derek Owens and Mark Turner, and former soccer player Angela Palacios.  It follows a similar suit filed in July by 75 former National Football League players.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.7 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries each year.  Three-quarters of those injuries are considered “mild,” as concussions.  But concussions are brain injuries, nonetheless.

“When we talk about concussion and mild traumatic brain injury, the ‘mild’ only refers to someone being very unlikely to die,” said Flanagan.  “But the consequences can be much more severe, with chronic problems -- physical, emotional and cognitive issues.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Few Docs Follow Heart Attack Guidelines for Student Athletes

Jupiterimages/Thinsktock(SEATTLE) -- Sudden cardiac arrest deaths in otherwise healthy teens are usually triggered by an unknown heart condition.  While doctors have created screening guidelines for student athletes in an attempt to avoid such tragedies, perhaps the real tragedy is that few doctors actually follow these screening guidelines.

The new research, presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011, found that fewer than 6 percent of doctors fully follow national guidelines for assessing sudden cardiac death risk during high school sports physical exams.

"Despite national guidelines that have existed unaltered for 15 years, those recommendations still have not reached the bedside for sudden cardiac arrest during sports physical screenings," said Dr. Nicolas Madsen, lead researcher and pediatric cardiology fellow at Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington School of Medicine.

More than 1,100 family doctors and pediatricians were surveyed in the study.  Less than half of physicians and only 6 percent of the 317 athletic directors questioned were aware of the national guidelines, which were published in 1996 by the American Heart Association. The guidelines consist of physical exam elements, including listening to the heart and checking blood pressure, along with eight medical history questions.

"We should really begin to implement policies such that sports physical recommendations is freely available to the public," said Madsen.  "It's clear that physicians are interested in figuring out how to get to a screening approach in the best way, that maximizes the potential for maximizing each patient visit and streamlines financing."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


High School Football Player Dies; Sixth Athlete Death This Summer

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- It's a football record nobody wanted to set: For the sixth time this summer, a high school football player has collapsed and died after practicing in scorching heat.

Al Smith Jr., a 15-year-old sophomore, fell ill and then fainted Tuesday during his second day of practice with the junior varsity team at Eisenhower High School in Houston. He was rushed to the hospital and died two days later.

While Smith's cause of death has not yet been determined, his case bears striking similarities to the deaths of several other high school players this summer.

All six of the deaths have occurred in the heat-stricken South, and all of the players were enduring one of their first practices of the season. Smith also was heavy-set, as were many of the other players who died.

"He was just a good kid, that's all I can say, a good kid," Smith's father, Al Smith Sr., told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston. "Whatever happened, I'm lost for words."

This tragic football preseason also claimed the life of an assistant football coach.

Wade McLain, 55, died during the first day of practice at Prestonwood Academy in Plano, Texas, on Aug. 1. He had a heart condition, and was conducting practice in 100-degree heat.

The dangers of student-athletes training in extreme heat create tragedies every year, and the number of deaths has been increasing. But nobody can remember a summer as lethal for young football players as this one. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, this also has been a summer of record-shattering heat.

From 1980 to 1984, an average of one high school football player died each year during the summer practice season. But the death rate has roughly tripled to 2.8 deaths per since then, according to a study last month by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The researchers concluded that two trends—the growing number of overweight and obese players and the increasing frequency of heat waves—are "increasing the risk of heat-related illness and death for high school football players."

The study also found that many deaths occur at the start of the practice season, which it said was most likely the result of young players trying to do too much, too soon.

The first death this summer occurred July 26. Isaiah Laurencin, a 285-pound senior offensive lineman at Miramar High School in South Florida, went into cardiac arrest during his team's second workout session that day.

A gifted player who had three college scholarship offers, Laurencin died a short time later. Autopsy results are pending.

Four days later, Tyquan Brantley, 14, a freshman at Lamar High School in South Carolina, collapsed during practice and later died. The coroner said his death was related to a "sickle-cell crisis" brought on by 101-degree heat.

Two 16-year-old football players in Georgia died on Aug. 2 from heat exhaustion. Donteria Searcy was found unconscious in his cabin after a morning workout at his high school's football camp. Forrest Jones of Locust Grove High School, had passed out after a drill a week earlier, and never regained consciousness.

And in Arkansas, 15-year-old Montel Williams collapsed while wearing full gear an hour into practice at Gurdon High School near Arkadelphia on Aug. 9. The temperature in the area was 93, with a heat index of 110. An autopsy found Williams had a heart condition.

In Houston, administrators at Eisenhower are offering grief counselors to students mourning the sudden death of Al Smith Jr.

"It's just tragic. I mean, to understand that these kids play together, they're friends, they grew up with each other—it's just very painful for the community," one parent said.

A moment of silence was held for Smith and his family before Friday night's game against North Shore High School, but the emotions were just too much for the team to overcome. Eisenhower lost, 51-7.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio