5.3 Hyperthermia deaths in football players: a retrospective analysis of meteorological, temporal and demographic risk factors

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 4:00 PM
4C-2 (Washington State Convention Center)
Myron Thomas Petro, University Of Georgia, Athens, GA; and A. J. Grundstein, C. Ramseyer, F. Zhao, J. L. Pesses, P. Akers, A. Qureshi, L. Becker, and J. A. Knox

During the period 1980-2009, there were 58 documented cases of death due to hyperthermia in football players across the United States. Our study employs National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research data and climatological data for these cases to examine the onset of hyperthermia in conjunction with meteorological variables, time of year, time of day, location, activity level, weight and position played, and equipment worn. Deaths were most common during the first half of August, when players are not acclimatized to working out in hot and humid conditions. Over half of the deaths occurred during morning practices, a time perceived as safe in an effort to avoid the higher temperatures of the afternoon. The higher humidity present in the morning, however, can be just as detrimental. By position, linemen are disproportionately represented among the deaths, comprising 86% of cases in which position information is available. Public communication of these findings, especially to coaches and players, would allow better prepared practice schedules and closer monitoring of players. It would also reinforce the need to gradually acclimatize players to the harsh conditions present during the late-summer period. Time permitting, the role of late-summer heat waves in creating the extreme temperature conditions leading to hyperthermia will be addressed.
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