'Best Practice' Policies Focus on Preventing Student-Athlete Deaths

From: Education Week

Sudden death in athletes is rare, but according to a task force of leading health professionals, secondary school athletes lead the country in athletic-related deaths, most of which can be prevented through proper education, emergency protocols, and health and safety policy considerations.

During its 64th annual conference in Las Vegas today, the National Athletic Trainer's Association provided an advance release of "best-practice" policies that can be adopted universally by all secondary school athletic programs in the United States. The statement will be published in the July issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.

These "best practice" policies build on NATA's position statement from two years ago addressing a wide range of youth sports-related issues, which my colleague Bryan Toporek has written about previously.

The task force document, "Preventing Sudden Death in Secondary School Athletics Programs: Best-Practices Recommendations," is a roadmap for policy considerations regarding health and safety in secondary athletics programs, and looks to address the leading causes of sudden death among student athletes, including head and neck injuries, heat stroke, and sudden cardiac arrest.

To ensure student safety, the task force recommends every school develop an Emergency Action Plan that includes specific details for each athletic facility where practices and competitions occur. The statement also suggests all administrators and athletics staff who have contact with youth-athletes be certified in first aid and CPR.

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