Physicals and the health of student athletes

9NEWS @ 4. 9/19/2016

KUSA - Students and faculty at a local charter school are still reeling from the death of a high school athlete, who collapsed at a running event on Friday in Broomfield.

Brandon Ries, 18, was a senior at Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette and co-captain of the cross-country team.

The coroner tells 9NEWS autopsy results are still pending. His death, though, is highlighting the potential risk student athletes face when they play sports.

Doctors say there is no one risk factor student athletes face because different sports carry different risks. They say making sure student athletes take physicals can help reduce those deaths, but sometimes there is little that can be done to prevent them. That’s because physicals can sometimes miss an underlying condition, like a heart problem that may not be detected.

According to the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, which works on insuring student athlete safety, 50 high school student athletes in the U.S. died in 2015 while playing sports.

Those deaths involved a number of different sports – from football to swimming to basketball --and a variety of causes -- from heart conditions to brain aneurysms to heat stroke.

9NEWS medical expert Dr. John Torres said that when it comes to physicals for student athletes, family history also needs to be considered.

“The biggest issue we have with children and teenagers in particular dying suddenly is what’s called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,” Dr. Torres said. “So, the doctor says there seems to be something going on with the heart or the doctor asks questions about their medical history or the family’s past medical history and wants to get additional testing beyond that – make sure you get that testing because that’s probably the main reason they end up dying on the field or on the court.”

The Colorado High School Activities Association provides a form that student athletes must get a medical professional to fill out. It’s part of a detailed physical examination not just for before student athletes get to play, but also to get cleared to play again, if they sustain an injury.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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