Page 145 - Athletic Health Handbook
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precautions to prevent complications Table 2. NATA Guidelines in the Management of Athletes with Sickle Cell Trait
of exertional sickling and enable (NATA Consensus Statement)
athletes with sickle cell trait to excel in
their sport. To this end, the National 1. All athletes with sickle cell trait who develop symptoms (e.g., cramping, pain, weakness,
Athletic Trainers’ Association has fatigue, shortness of breath) should stop exercise immediately and report to their athletic
offered a series of guidelines in the trainer and coach. Symptoms of suspected sickling can occur after just 2 to 3 minutes
management of athletes with the of sprinting or similar sustained exertion.
sickle cell trait. These guidelines
are outlined in Table 2. 2. Preventive measures include decreasing exercise intensity, encouraging a slow build-up
of conditioning activities, allowing for frequent rest and recovery periods, and increasing
In conclusion, sickle cell trait opportunities for hydration. Athletes with sickle cell trait often function best if they are
has become increasingly recognized allowed to set their own pace.
as a cause of sudden death among
athletes. Prompt recognition of 3. All athletes with sickle cell trait should avoid timed serial sprints and sustained exertion
exertional sickling, which occurs for greater than 2 to 3 minutes without a break.
during periods of increased physical
exertion, is critical to avoiding 4. Because environmental heat, stress, dehydration, asthma, and illness predispose athletes
complications from rhabdomyolysis. with sickle cell trait to exertional sickling, activities should be adjusted.
In an effort to identify athletes at risk
of developing exertional sickling, 5. Athletes with sickle cell trait who plan to exercise and/or compete at an elevated altitude
the NCAA has initiated mandatory (5,000 feet or greater) should be closely monitored when new to the altitude. In these
sickle cell screening among its situations, training efforts should be reduced and oxygen should be readily available
first-year athletes. It is hoped that to prevent exertional sickling.
in the athletic cohort preventive
measures and early detection will
eradicate sudden death among
those with sickle cell trait.

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