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Incidence of Exertional Heat Illness among NCAA Athletes: 1521Board #68 May 28 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Oppliger, Robert A. FACSM1; Agel, Julie2; Dick, Randall W. FACSM3; Corlette, Jill D.3

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 5 - p S233
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000322501.33651.40
B-25 Free Communication/Poster - Injuries and Sports Medicine: MAY 28, 2008 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM: ROOM: Hall B

1Iowa Wrestling Research, Iowa City, IA. 2University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.3National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, IN.


(No relationships reported)

PURPOSE: Position papers by the ACSM warn of the dangers of exertional heat illness (EHI) among athletes. The NCAA has embraced the ACSM warnings through rules and recommendations to medical staff, coaches and student-athletes. Using a retrospective review, the present investigation sought to determine the incidence of EHI in 16 years of NCAA injury surveillance data.

METHODS: Data were extracted from injury surveillance surveys collected by the NCAA from 1988 through 2004 for 15 men's and women's sports. EHI causing loss of one day or more of practice/game were reported and included: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hyponatremia, and heat syncope. Injury rates are expressed as the ratio of injury events per 1000 athlete exposures (A-E).

RESULTS: 2095 EHI were reported which represents 1.1% of the 182,655 injury events and a rate of 0.06 EHI per 1000 A-E. 91.9% of the EHI (1925) occurred in practice with an A-E rate of 0.09/ 1000 A-E. EHI occurred predominantly in preseason 86.9% (rate 0.17/1000 A-E) compared to in-season (11.6% 0.02/1000 A-E) or postseason (1.6% rate 0.04/ 1000 A-E). The majority of EHI (1632 or 77.9%) occurred in men's fall football (MFB) practices and represented 3.9% (rate 0.15/ 1000 A-E) of MFB practice injuries. 96.0% of the MFB practice EHI (n=1567) occurred during preseason Two other sports men's (MSO) and women's (WSO) soccer report EHI greater than 1% in practices. Among MSO 1.7% of all practice injuries were related to EHI (n=106, rate 0.08/ 1000 A-E) and among WSO practices, EHI accounted for 1.2% (n=70, rate= 0.06/ 1000 A-E).

CONCLUSIONS: EHI represents a significant risk for student-athletes, particularly among fall sports that begin practice in late summer. Football protective equipment may increase the risk in MFB. Medical staff, coaches, and student-athletes should adhere to ACSM and NCAA guidelines for exercise in the heat.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine