Jan 29, 2015
Bulletin Board

Synthetic Marijuana Alert

A synthetic form of marijuana commonly referred to as K2 or Spice has sports medicine professionals, athletic departments, and the NCAA on alert. The drug is not detectable through current drug tests and officials worry that use among athletes is on the rise.

A blend of herbs sprayed with several synthetic chemicals, as well as the ingredient cannabicyclohexanol, K2 can elicit effects more severe than traditional marijuana. Users have presented with symptoms including hallucinations, severe agitation, elevated heart rate, vomiting, and seizures.

Performance-enhancing drugs may add yet another layer of risk. “If you combine these products and steroids, I can’t begin to predict the negative consequences,” Anthony Scalzo, MD, Toxicologist and Pediatrician at St. Louis University’s School of Medicine, told Yahoo Sports. “If you add these stresses to the heart, someone’s probably going to have a heart attack from it.”

K2 has been linked to at least one athlete suicide. David Rozga, a former Iowa high school football player, killed himself last June following a high school graduation party. It was later revealed that Rozga had been smoking K2 that day.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, the drug is often marketed as herbal incense. Several states have passed legislation banning use of the drug, and the DEA officially banned K2 and the five ingredients used to make it on March 1. The NCAA is following suit with a ban effective Aug. 1.

Sports Dietitians Group Making Moves

The Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA) has made a lot of progress in its first year of existence. Since its official launch last May, the group has grown from 20 registered dietitians to more than 400 performance nutrition professionals who work with athletes at all levels.

The group has a mission to “close the circle of protection around athletes with an emphasis on long-term athletic development and safety… by adding the full-time services of a sports dietitian in college, Olympic, professional and tactical (military) athletic settings.” It is headed by President Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS, who has worked with the University of Nebraska and University of Wisconsin athletic departments. Amy Bragg, RD, CSSD, LD, Director of Performance Nutrition at the University of Alabama, serves as Vice President.

According to Bragg, the group started when a handful of dietitians decided that college athletic directors and other potential employers needed to better understand what they had to offer. She compares the challenge sports nutritionists face in gaining widespread acceptance to what athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and even team physicians faced years ago before they were integral parts of athletic departments.

Bragg says one of the group’s ongoing efforts is bringing together people from various disciplines who are responsible for student-athlete health and welfare. “Strength coaches and athletic trainers really have a large load to carry,” she says. “We’re trying to include them in this group so we can all share best practices. If we’re able to share ideas, it will elevate our care and the athletes will benefit.”

The CPSDA recently held its 2011 Conference and Clinical Symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz. The four-day event featured former University of Nebraska Head Football Coach Tom Osborne as the keynote speaker and showcased presentations on topics such as food allergies and nutrition for injured athletes and various sport-specific nutrition discussions.

For more information about the CPSDA, visit: www.sportsdietitians.org.

Protecting Pitchers

As the buzz about athlete safety in baseball reaches a roar, a helmet for pitchers is about to hit the market. Easton-Bell has created a 5.5-ounce prototype helmet made from expanded polystyrene that can absorb and displace energy.

The prototype looks like a band, fitting completely around a pitcher’s head, and can be worn over a hat. The company says it hopes to have the product on shelves this fall.

When producing the band, Easton-Bell analyzed the finishing positions of more than 5,000 Little League pitchers in order to determine which spots on the head were most vulnerable to being hit by a line drive.

The design could change before production begins, but it already has supporters. “It’s said that a pitcher can have a ball 120, 130, 140 miles an hour, maybe faster, coming back at him,” Julian Bailes, MD, Chair of the West Virginia University Department of Neurosurgery, told WDTV.com. “From a medical perspective, from a biomechanical perspective, it makes all the sense in the world to me.”

While doctors laud the safety component of the helmet, some coaches are less receptive to the idea. “I can be honest and say if it’s not mandatory, I’m not going to force my kids to do it,” Pro Performance Baseball Director Ernie Galusky told WDTV.com. “I think everybody should be all for safety, especially with as much attention as the concussions and the head injuries have been getting lately in all the sports, but at the same time I think we can go overboard, and I think this is one of those things where we’re going overboard a little bit.”

Easton-Bell has not yet set a price for the helmet. By the time next season rolls around, pitchers will at least have the option to wear a protective device designed specifically for them.

Symposium Targets Coach Education

As part of National Athletic Training Month in March, Coahoma Community College held a sports medicine symposium for local high school coaches and athletic directors. The event was organized by CCC Head Athletic Trainer and Assistant Athletic Director Selina Reid, ATC.

“A lot of coaches aren’t aware of various issues in sports medicine and safety, and I wanted to do my part to educate them,” Reid says. “Not all coaches majored in health and physical education so they don’t have the formal background training that we do as athletic trainers. By being proactive about the issues, we can prevent a problem before it occurs.”

Reid contacted colleagues, both athletic trainers and those who work in other sport medicine fields, and asked if they’d be willing to speak. She found the response overwhelming. “The people I reached out to were very enthusiastic about coming because they recognize how important coach education is,” she says. “We’d like to have this event annually and hope to increase the turnout, so having those speakers is paramount.”

Topics discussed included identifying when it’s safe for athletes to return to play after injury and implementing a strength and conditioning program at the high school level. Reid spoke on heat-related illnesses and sudden death among student-athletes, with an emphasis on sickle cell trait. There were also demonstrations and a question-and-answer session following the presentations.

Reid is the only athletic trainer at Coahoma, and she feels that coaches need to learn about these issues to best serve the athletes. “There’s no way I can be at every event at once,” she says. “Enhancing coaches’ knowledge about student-athlete safety is especially important for the athletes at a small community college.”

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