Examination of Body Mass Changes Among Division I Collegiate Football Players With Sickle Cell Trait

in International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training
Rebecca M. Hirschhorn PhD, ATC, NRAEMT*,1, Jessica L. Phillips Gilbert MS, LAT, ATC*,2, Danielle A. Cadet MS, ATC*,3, Tenley E. Murphy MD*,4, Clinton Haggard MA, SCAT, ATC, NREMT-B*,5, Stephanie Rosehart MEd, SCAT, ATC*,5, and Susan W. Yeargin PhD, SCAT, ATC*,5
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  • 1 Louisiana State University
  • | 2 Raleigh Orthopedic
  • | 3 Peachtree Orthopedics
  • | 4 Clemson University
  • | 5 University of South Carolina
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American football athletes are frequently hypohydrated before and during activity. Hypohydration increases the risk of exertional sickling in student-athletes with sickle cell trait (SCT). The authors examined weight charts from the 2010/2011 to 2018/2019 seasons at one Division I institution to determine if differences in percentage body mass losses (%BML) exist between those with and without SCT. Seventeen student-athletes with SCT and 17 matched-controls were included. A Bonferroni correction was applied to account for multiple comparisons (0.05/8), resulting in p < .006 considered significant. There was a significant difference for %BML between groups (SCT: 0.84 ± 0.65% vs. control: 1.21 ± 0.71%; p = .002) but not for the number of days %BML exceeded 2% (SCT: 0 ± 1 vs. control: 1 ± 1; p = .016). Implementation of proper hydration strategies minimized %BML in athletes with SCT, decreasing the risk of hypohydration and exertional sickling. The same strategies ensured all players remained below threshold to optimize performance and reduce heat illness risk.

Hirschhorn is with the School of Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA. Phillips Gilbert is with Raleigh Orthopedic, Raleigh, NC, USA. Cadet is with Peachtree Orthopedics, Atlanta, GA, USA. Murphy is with Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA. Haggard and Rosehart are with the Athletics Department, University of South Carolina, SC, USA. Yeargin is with the Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.

Hirschhorn (rhirschhorn@lsu.edu) is corresponding author.
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