Training & Conditioning, 15.6, September 2005, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/tc/tc1506/bboard.htm
States Act On Steroids
While much attention has been paid to Congressional hearings on steroid use among professional athletes, state legislatures are also getting into the act. Several states entertained steroid control proposals during the first half of 2005, most of them directed at high school athletes and state athletic associations.
Virginia was one of four states to pass legislation intended to discourage steroid use by high school athletes and enacted the toughest penalty of any state law. Students found to have used steroids will lose their athletic eligibility for two years. In addition, administrative or teaching licenses will be revoked from teachers, coaches, or administrators who sell or distribute steroids or who fail to notify their principal or superintendent about known steroid use among students.
New laws in Texas and Illinois will require schools to educate students about the dangers of steroid abuse, with the Texas law leaving the door open for future testing. Other states considered bills that would have mandated testing athletes, but none of those became law. In New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson plans to ask lawmakers to enact random testing next year and has pledged $330,000 toward a testing program.
Most states have avoided colleges and universities in their proposed bills largely because of the NCAA drug-testing program. Athletes who fail an NCAA drug test lose one year of eligibility for the first offense and two years for a second offense.
The Dallas Morning News Web site features an ongoing look at steroid use among high school athletes, including a series of stories that revealed use at local high schools and prompted the new legislation. Links to the series and other stories can found at: www.dallasnews.com/sports/highschools.
Migraines May Signal Concussion Damage
Most athletic trainers recognize acute headache pain, nausea, and hypersensitivity to light or sound as the hallmarks of migraine headaches. Now, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh say that these symptoms can also indicate increased neurocognitive impairment following a concussion.
As part of the University of Pittsburgh Sports Medicine Concussion Program, researchers divided 261 high school and college athletes who had suffered a concussion into three groups: those who showed symptoms of post-traumatic migraine (PTM) headache, those who had headaches, and those who had no headaches. Neurocognitive testing (including verbal and visual memory, visual motor speed, and reaction time tests) showed that the migraine group performed significantly worse than both the headache and non-headache groups.
“The findings of our study strongly support the need for clinicians to exercise increased vigilance in making decisions about managing a concussed athlete with PTM and extreme caution as to when that athlete should be allowed to return to play,” said the study’s lead author, Jason Mihalik, CAT(C), ATC, a doctoral student now working in the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory at the University of North Carolina.
According to the study’s authors, “Given the significantly greater neurocognitive impairments observed in the PTM group in our study, any athlete with a concussion accompanied by characteristics of PTM should be examined in a setting that includes symptom status and neurocognitive testing to address their recovery more fully. Clearly, sports-related concussion is related to increased cognitive impairments, regardless of the presence of headache. It is critical that any athlete sustaining a concussion be followed up to not only assess lingering symptoms, but also to evaluate cognitive impairments. Symptoms may resolve before their neurocognitive deficits do.”
The study, titled “Post-Traumatic Migraine Characteristics In Athletes Following Sports-Related Concussion” was published in the April 2005 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery and is the latest in a series of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center studies on concussions in athletes. A 2003 UPMC study showed that headache is likely associated with incomplete brain recovery following a concussion and indicated the need to keep athletes out of action until headache and other symptoms have cleared.
For previous T&C articles on concussions, go to our Web site and type “concussion” in the search window: www.athleticsearch.com.
Weighty Wrestling Rules
After years of dialogue, a nationwide minimum weight requirement for all high school wrestlers will soon become a reality. In an effort to make the sport safer, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Wrestling Rules Committee is requiring every state to implement a weight-management program by the start of the 2006-07 season.
Under the new rules, wrestlers will be assigned a safe minimum weight based on a body fat percentage of no less than seven percent for males and 12 percent for females. Safe minimum weights will be valid only when an athlete is measured while fully hydrated (having a specific gravity measurement above 1.025 at the time of their assessment). A wrestler will not be allowed to lose more than 1.5 percent of his or her weight per week and cannot fall below his or her safe minimum weight at any point during the season. In addition, wrestlers will be allowed to gain only two pounds during a multi-day meet, no matter how many days the competition lasts.
Athletic trainers in states that have already implemented similar rules have found themselves on the front line of efforts to keep wrestlers safe. Only trained assessors—typically school athletic trainers and area medical professionals—will be allowed to conduct the initial measurements that establish safe minimum weights. The Florida High School Athletic Association initially trained 65 medical professionals as “master assessors,” who then trained over 130 additional people as assessors throughout the state. In New Jersey, seminars were held to train area athletic trainers and medical doctors.
More information on the NFHS weight-management program can be found in the “Sport & Rules Information” section of the NFHS Web site: www.nfhs.org.
Caffeine & Carbs
Caffeine is a familiar pick-me-up for many athletic trainers, but it may also help their athletes, according to a study conducted at the University of Birmingham in England. Researchers at the school found that putting caffeine into sports drinks raised the absorption rate of carbohydrates in athletes by 26 percent, which can provide extra energy for those competing in endurance sports, such as cycling and distance running.
“You are kind of sparing your small body carbohydrate stores,” Asker Jeukendrup, PhD, told the Associated Press. Jeukendrup is Director of the school’s Human Performance Laboratory and an author of the study. “You can get more energy from your drink, [and that] means you are using less energy from your body stores.”
As part of the study, cyclists rode in three two-hour exercise sessions at 55 percent of their maximum output while consuming one of three different drinks—glucose, glucose with caffeine (five milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight), and plain water. Blood and expired air samples taken every 15 minutes showed that the cyclists consuming the caffeine drink absorbed carbohydrates faster than the others.
The researchers plan further studies to determine the level of caffeine intake required to increase carbohydrate absorption and measure the actual performance increase that drinks with caffeine may produce. The NCAA bans caffeine only in large doses (greater than 15 micrograms/milliliter in urine). The World Anti-Doping Agency removed caffeine from its banned list in 2004.
The study, titled “Caffeine Increases Exogenous Carbohydrate Oxidation During Exercise,” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Physiology and is available through the journal’s Web site at: jap.physiology.org.