Jan 29, 2015
Bulletin Board

D-III Weighs Drug Prevention Options

The NCAA has completed its Division III drug education and testing pilot program, and now must decide if–and how–it will alter its future deterrence plans. Currently, the association tests D-III athletes for performance enhancing and recreational drugs only at championship events, though individual schools may choose to further test their own student-athletes.

Besides continuing the current testing protocol, the Presidents Council is considering three additional options: Enhancing educational programming, instituting year-round testing (either for performance enhancing drugs only or also for illegal recreational drugs), and offering funding to schools that want to further test their athletes on campus.

During the two-year pilot program, 80 schools received $1,000 a year from the NCAA to provide their student-athletes with drug education resources and/or additional testing. One group of schools both tested their athletes and provided them with educational resources, and a second group participated only in the drug education program.

The testing schools screened randomly selected athletes for anabolic agents, diuretics, peptide hormones, urine manipulators, stimulants, and recreational drugs. Both the athletes and schools knew that the results would remain confidential and positive tests wouldn’t trigger NCAA sanctions.

A study of the pilot program found that both anabolic steroids and recreational drugs are used by Division III athletes in several sports. Organizers also concluded that the current championships-only testing protocol does not effectively deter student-athletes from using, and that the educational portion of the program didn’t have a measurable impact either.

D-III members are expected to weigh their options this year before discussing them at the 2011 NCAA Convention in January. If further testing and/or educational legislation is proposed, any vote will not take place until the 2012 convention.

For more information about the pilot program, including the final report and executive summary, search “Division III drug education and testing pilot” at: www.ncaa.org.

Heart Screening Debate Renewed

While advocates of routine student-athlete heart screening say it’s impossible to put a price on a life, the cost of electrocardiograms (ECGs) for student-athletes is still a concern for many schools. Two recent studies shine a new spotlight on the issue, presenting evidence that routine ECGs save lives.

Both studies appeared in the March 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The first, from Stanford University, concluded that for every 1,000 athletes screened via ECG, the equivalent of two years of life is saved. Based on an estimated cost of $88 per screening, the cost to save one year of life was roughly $43,000.

“According to our model, ECG together with a history and physical exam is the preferred strategy for screening athletes for underlying heart disease,” Matthew Wheeler, MD, PhD, a fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Stanford and lead author of the study, said in a press release. “This would save the most lives at a cost that is generally agreed to be acceptable for the U.S. healthcare system.”

The second study, from Harvard University, added ECGs to 510 Harvard student-athletes’ preseason physical screenings and detected heart disease in approximately twice as many athletes when compared to a group that didn’t undergo ECGs. But detractors note that ECGs aren’t 100-percent accurate and sometimes produce false positives.

While it’s obvious that ECGs have some value, the cost remains prohibitive for many athletic programs. A 2007 American Heart Association study said it would cost $2 billion a year to administer and read ECGs for the 10 million high school and middle school student-athletes in the U.S. For now, each campus or district must decide if the extra screening is practical for its setting.

To read the abstract of the Stanford study, search “cost-effectiveness of preparticipation screening for prevention” at: www.annals.org. To read the abstract of the Harvard study, search “cardiovascular screening in college athletes.”

New CATS President Discusses Role

Scott Anderson, ATC, Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Oklahoma, has always been impressed with the work of the College Athletic Trainers’ Society (CATS). When he was appointed president by its board of directors in November, he was humbled by the opportunity, and realized it was a great chance to boost the profession and support the diverse efforts of his colleagues nationwide.

“I’ve been a college athletic trainer my whole professional life,” he says. “Since I was appointed president, I’ve reflected on all that college athletic trainers have accomplished. We should feel proud that we’ve shaped the profession and participated in a lot of important research, training, and mentoring.

“We have people like Kevin Guskiewicz at the University of North Carolina, who has spearheaded critical research on athlete safety,” Anderson continues. “His research along with information from the NCAA’s injury surveillance program, which is all submitted by athletic trainers, has driven the creation of standards that have expanded the margin of safety for student-athletes. That’s something I want all of my colleagues to acknowledge and be proud of.”

In addition to continuing CATS’s work in raising awareness of the profession and providing continuing education opportunities, Anderson would like to use his term as president to emphasize athletic trainers’ need for work/life balance. “Our day-to-day responsibility is having a passion for the welfare of others, but we have to be passionate about our own welfare, too,” he says. “If there were a simple answer to the work/life balance problem, it would have been solved by now, but there isn’t. We need to gain more control over our schedules and reassess our priorities.”

So far, Anderson’s first few months in office have been inspiring. “I’m just so pleased when I look at all we’ve accomplished as a group,” he says. “CATS is alive and well, and we’re here to serve our profession. We invite athletic trainers to tell us what’s on their minds or ask us how to get involved in helping their peers. We’re all on one big team.”

Scott Anderson writes about his plans for the College Athletic Trainers’ Society in our Monthly Feature column for May at: www.training-conditioning.com.

Teaching Athletic Training Skills Via Podcast

The sheer number of testing skills that athletic training students need to master can seem daunting. But what if they had instant access to video clips of each modality, exercise, and test they were taught during the semester? And what if it could all fit in their pocket? That’s exactly what professors Michael Moore, PhD, ATC, and Angela Mickle, PhD, ATC, have been providing for their students at Radford University.

“It’s extremely useful for our students to be able to see different skills and movements from various angles,” Moore says. “So we started creating 30-second videos of all the special tests. Because the videos are then downloaded to students’ handheld media players, they can have our instruction with them 24/7.”

Radford students sign up with the school’s iTunes U account at the beginning of the school year, and each time Mickle and Moore upload a video, it’s automatically downloaded to the students’ devices. The videos can also be viewed on a computer.

“It seems like students always have their iPods or iPhones everywhere they go, so we figured, why not tap into that?” Moore says. “Students watch the videos when they’re walking their dog, or listen to the audio when they’re out for a run.”

Besides recording and uploading the videos for the past few years, Moore and Mickle have been podcasting entire class lectures since 2004, pairing the audio with video of each day’s PowerPoint presentations. “You don’t have to be technologically savvy to do this,” Moore says. “Sure, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but after that it’s easy, and it’s a really neat way to help your students learn.

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