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Player Injury & Safety

What to Discover or Recall:

Discover why CPR training is manditory to coach basketball. 
Comprehend the hidden danger of Sudden Cardio Death.
Realize that if CPR is started and 
defibrillation applied within the first few minutes of Sudden Cardio Death, the chances of survival are great. 
Understand the importance of organizing an automatic response system to medical emergencies.


Medical Emergencies Preparation

Are you prepared for a player emergency? Is your First Aid and CPR training up to date? If not, now during the off season, is a great time to become current. Training and certification does not take much time and the benefits are priceless. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training is just not a simple matter of meeting a coaching certification requirement. It is a matter of obtaining the knowledge and capability to save the life of one of your players. Coaches should not step on the floor without it.

Player safety is an awesome responsibility and liability that is inherited with basketball coaching. Therefore, all coaches, including assistants and volunteers on every level of the game must be first aid trained and prepared in the event of a player emergency. Washington State University women’s head basketball coach, June Daugherty, who not only had one of her players survive a cardiac arrest (stoppage of the heart), but also survived a cardiac arrest herself, has reminded HoopTactics just how important it is for not only coaches, but also all players as well, to be trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It was a teammate that administered CPR that saved the life of her former player!

Sudden Cardio Death

Unconscious Player

Sudden Cardio Death is the number one cause of death among athletes. Last season a Michigan High School player received national media attention when he died after making a game winning shot. This did not only sent shock waves throughout the basketball world, but brought out the concerns of the hidden health dangers faced by young athletes and the importance of coaches being prepared for on the court life threatening emergencies.

In that same week, four other basketball related sudden cardio deaths occurred. In the United States over a 100 sudden cardio deaths occur annually among middle school, high school and college athletes with basketball having the highest risk. That is one every three days. The risk of sudden cardiac death among NCAA Division I male players is 1 in 3,000. The most common cause of sudden cardio related deaths among young athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy a thickening of the heart muscle. This abnormal growth which goes undetected in most cases, can cause cardiac arrest during exertion particularly in young African-American players where the risk is 3X greater than Caucasian players. The risk of sudden cardio death is also 3X greater in males than females.

Sudden Cardio Death Survival

The good news is, if CPR is started and defibrillation applied within the first few minutes of sudden cardio death, the chances of survival are great. Automatic External Defibrillator (AED’s) are now required by law in public malls, airports, and casinos. However, 30 states still do not require them in schools. Fortunately, administrators, foundations and communities are realizing the real need for AED’s and providing a growing number of schools with AED’s. Make sure your school or venue has one available. Proper use of an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is relatively simple matter and only takes a few minutes to learn. AED’s are practically “dummy” proof. They will only automatically fire (shock) if it is warranted. Note: Coaches’ accessibility after school hours can be a problem that needs to be address.

Screening & Prevention

Since athletic training and competition increases the risk of sudden cardiac death in players with underlying heart disease, the American Heart Association, highly recommends that student/athletes be screened with a careful history, including family history and through physical examination including EKG’s and Echocardiograms. However, testing and screening will not detect all causes of sudden cardio death. Currently, 80% occur with no warning or previous symptoms including family history. Therefore, all coaches must be prepared. This means not only being CPR trained, but also having a plan of action in place.

Minnesota’s “Anyone can save a life” Response Model

Note: This emergency response model is applicable to all basketball programs on all levels, youth through professional, not just high schools. If you are conducting a basketball program on any level, it is your responsibility to have an automated response system in place in the event of an emergency.

Minnesota State High School League found that 60% percent of their schools had no plan in place for after school hours emergencies. This resulted in organizing an unique program that focused on putting an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in every high school in the state, and to develop an organized plan to respond to sudden cardiac emergencies. The program named “Anyone Can Save a Life,” empowers coaches to organize their teams into action in the event of an emergency. It requires coaches to spend 10 minutes at the beginning of each team’s season asking questions of his/her team as to how many have been trained in CPR and would they be willing to assist in the event of an emergency if needed? From this dialog, players are then assigned emergency roles. This creates an automatic response system which allows the coach to remain with the victim without having to give direction.

Automated Response System:

1. At least two players are assigned to call 911.
2. At least two players are assigned to run to the athletic trainer’s office.
3. Two players are assigned to know where the nearest AED device is and to go retrieve it.
4. Other players are assigned to go to a pre-determined location to meet the medics or an ambulance.

After those assignments have been made, the coach fills out a worksheet, which is kept on record in the school’s athletic office. Each team is required to review the assignments periodically during the season. While this may seem like just one more thing to add to a coach’s workload, most coaches understand the importance of having a plan and a course of action in place. The chances of a positive and successful outcome in the event of an emergency, far outweighs the added responsibility of a coach of having one more thing to do.

CAUTION: When undertaking First Aid and CPR training, do not vision yourself of saving a complete stranger’s life and receiving a medal. The life you are going to save is going to be someone close and dear to you (a parent, spouse, child, best friend, one of  your players, etc.)!

Online Resources:

Save a Life: View Learn Hands-Only CPR Demo Video (1:10 minutes) Click Here

Learn/Review CPR Online - Free public service supported by the University of Washington School of Medicine – Click Here

American Red Cross First Aid-CPR-AED Classes Click Here

For more information on Basketball Player Injuries and Safety – Click Here  

 

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