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State-mandated guidelines reduce heat illnesses among high school football players: Study

ANI | Updated: Apr 11, 2019 18:39 IST

Washington D.C [U.S.A], Apr 11 (ANI): Rates of heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps and heat strokes, were reduced by half in places that follow state-mandated guidelines to reduce exertional heat illness among high school football players, according to a study. 
The study examined the effectiveness of state-mandated guidelines for reducing exertional heat illness among high school football players and provided compelling evidence that exertional heat illness can be prevented through mandated safety policies.
The study findings were published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives.
Heat-related illness is a potentially life-threatening injury for high school athletes and is most common among high school football players. Tough physical practices in hot, humid conditions increase the risk of a wide range of exertional heat illness conditions.
In 2009, the National Athletic Trainers' Association Inter-Association Task Force released guidelines to reduce the risk of exertional heat illness for high school athletes. The guidelines allow high school athletes to adapt physiologically to the conditions and the intensity of practice during the initial 14 consecutive days of the preseason. However, until this study, the effectiveness of these guidelines had never been demonstrated.
“The findings are impactful because they highlight the potential benefits of state high school associations mandating injury prevention guidelines that aim to protect the safety and well-being of student-athletes,” said Zachary Kerr, lead author of the study.
As part of the study, the team of researchers examined exertional heat illness during high school football practices in the U.S. between 2005 and 2017 using data from the High School Reporting Information Online system. The data was compared between states with and without mandated National Athletic Trainers' Association Inter-Association Task Force guidelines.
The research team found that during 2,697,089 athlete-exposures, which are defined as a single preseason practice activity by one athlete, 190 exertional heat illnesses were reported. The preseason exertional heat illness rates were 55% lower in states during years when the guidelines had been mandated.
Many injury prevention policies are created, adopted, and implemented, but few have been scientifically evaluated. This study evaluated a policy that aims to reduce the frequency of exertional heat illness in high school football. (ANI)