In less than a month, football and soccer practice will begin.Each year, we hear of one or more young athletes who die in the August heat from an undiagnosed heart condition or an improperly treated head trauma.Carolinas HealthCare System is in the third year of a program designed to prevent such tragedies; the program helps to educate coaches and parents on how to prevent and treat sports-related injuries.Marcey Stone, Director of Market Communications for Carolinas HealthCare System, and Kristen Soni, Manager of Community Relations for CMC-Union, talked recently about Heart of a Champion Day. It’s a health screening event for high school student-athletes held by Carolinas HealthCare System.In 2013, Heart of a Champion provided exams for nearly 2,500 high school athletes in Mecklenburg, Lincoln, Union and York (S.C.) counties.The screenings are provided to community student-athletes at no cost.In addition, OrthoCarolina provided physicians and physician assistants who performed orthopedic checks at the Mecklenburg, Union and York county screenings.Soni said at the June 8 event for Union County, 168 student athletes were evaluated, an increase from 124 in 2012. Those screenings utilized the resources of Carolinas Med-1, a mobile medical unit, and the services of 84 professional volunteers from the Carolinas HealthCare System. She also said the June 8 event identified 10 cases that needed additional follow-ups.Stone and Soni said that in Union County, Heart of a Champion Day is just one manifestation of a much larger program that reaches over 11,000 young Union County athletes through partnerships with local schools and recreation athletic associations.The Porter Ridge, Waxhaw, Wesley Chapel/Weddington and Piedmont Recreation Athletic associations have entered into partnerships with the system. Through these partnerships, players get screening physicals and coaches are trained in CPR, first aid and use of portable defibrillators.Carolinas HealthCare System provides the instructors and the medical equipment, which is kept on the field for emergency use.Soni said the program saved the life of one athlete when a program-trained coach was able to resuscitate a player who collapsed on a baseball field.At the high school level, partnerships exist with Union Academy and Metrolina Christian Academy. In these relationships, a certified athletic trainer is assigned to be on-site to provide physical screening and training for the athletic staff and faculty.Preventing cardiovascular incidents was the program’s initial target.“Public awareness of young athletes who collapse during athletic competition and are found to have had an undetected heart condition has grown tremendously in recent years,” says Dr. Nicholas Sliz, a pediatric cardiologist at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute. “While these conditions are rare, I feel the Heart of a Champion Day athletic screen increases the likelihood of detecting important heart conditions that would put an athlete at risk. ... ”Today the scope is much broader.“Catching orthopedic and general medical conditions early provides adequate time to effectively evaluate and treat them before the next athletic season,” says Dr. David Price, medical director of Heart of a Champion Day. “We alert parents to schedule an appointment with their child’s regular physician or other appropriate physician for follow-up care. In cases where the child does not have a primary care physician, we work with the family to find their child a regular doctor to assume their care.”For the fall 2013 season, Soni said a new initiative is aimed at training coaches and parents in identifying and treating concussions.Soni also said sports medicine specialist Dr. Robert Alcott will join the team in Union county in mid-July. He will be based at CMC-Union West medical plaza in Indian Trail to treat sports related injuries, and will serve as the team physician for Union Academy.Best wishes for a safe and successful fall sports season to all athletes in Union County, and thanks to Carolinas HealthCare System for dedicating the resources to help keep those athletes healthy.
Friday, Jul. 12, 2013
Carolinas HealthCare screens young athletes
John Anderson is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for John? Email him at email@example.com.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less