Good-bye 2019

This CJSM reindeer is resting before her big night on Christmas Eve. While she works, we hope you all have relaxing holidays.

New Year’s day 2020 is just around the corner, and though a year is coming to an end the decade apparently is NOT (I have just read that the ‘teens’ will end on Dec 31 2020 and the new decade will begin Jan 1 2021).

But the end of a year, 2019 in this case, is always a cause for celebration, and for both reflection and anticipation. And so, right now in this blog post, it’s that time to give 2019 a proper send-off.

Reflection

As I look back at the many studies and toher writing that have been published in the six issues of CJSM, it’s hard to pick a favorite (a bit like a parent picking one’s favorite child — it’s simply not done).  But I can say that there are some studies that are perhaps more memorable to me….. Read more of this post

Urine Reagent Strips for Assessing Hypohydration — Do They Work?

Hydrated or not?

Hydration status is an important issue in sports medicine.  Both ends of the spectrum — hypo and hyperhydration — increase risk for morbidity and mortality in the athlete.  As we all know, maintaining euvolemia is an important step in the prevention of heat illness, as the evaporative effect of sweating is one of the body’s mechanisms for heat dissipation.  Conversely, as my colleague and CJSM author Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler has argued on different platforms, a zeal to overhydrate can lead to hyperhydration, hyponatremia, and in extreme cases, death.

There is another way we concern ourselves with hydration status in sports medicine, and that is when assessing athletes who compete in weight classes, or when doing urine drug testing as a screen at a doping control station in competition.  Typically, such assessments are done using different testing modalities on urine specimens.

I am a Medical Delegate for the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) and am involved in doping control at long-distance swimming events.  Urine drug screens cannot reliably be done on dilute urine specimens.  In most settings we use refractometry but in some more remote or less developed venues, we may need to use urine reagent strips [WADA has different standards of specific gravity (SG) suitable for urine testing depending on whether refractometry or urine reagent strips are used].

More commonly, here in central Ohio, is the need to assess for hypohydration in the popular sport of wrestling [wrestlers — and other athletes competing in weight classes — will frequently sweat and minimize fluid intake prior to a competitive weigh-in to ‘make weight’ in the class in which they want to compete].  In Ohio high school wrestling, urine reagent strips only are used, and the standard is any sample with SG >1.025 results in a disqualification, with a minimum time period of 48 hours before reassessment.

Having an interest in all these dimensions of testing an athlete’s hydration status, I read with great interest the Brief Report that was published in the November 2019 CJSM: Urine Reagent Strips Are Inaccurate for Assessing Hypohydration: A Brief Report. Read more of this post

CJSM Blog Journal Club — Brain Changes After a Single Season in Youth vs. High School Football

Attending to injured player, High School Football

The November 2019 Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine has just published, and as always the new edition is full of interesting and original research.

One of the studies that already is getting some buzz is one by a team of researchers (full disclosure: including myself) headed by Dr. Kim Barber-Foss entitled Relative Head Impact Exposure and Brain White Matter Alterations After a Single Season of Competitive Football: A Pilot Comparison of Youth Versus High School Football.

This is a perfect study for a journal club, as the subject of cumulative exposure to head impacts, most especially in our youngest athletes, has been a hot, hot topic in sports medicine for several years. The sport in question here is American gridiron football.

Our intrepid Blog Journal Club author and Junior Associate Editor Jason Zaremski MD leads the charge, as ever, in his most recent post.  Thanks Dr. Zaremski for your insightful analysis of this new research.

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Title: Barber Foss KD, et al. Relative Head Impact Exposure and Brain White Matter Alterations After a Single Season of Competitive Football: A Pilot Comparison of Youth Versus High School Football. Clin J Sport Med 2019;29:442–450.

Jr. Assoc. Editor and Blog Journal Club author Dr. Jason Zaremski (L) and CJSM Editor-in-Chief Dr. Chris Hughes (R)

Introduction:  The pre-holiday CJSM journal club brings you an innovative new study from expert researchers related to potential white matter changes in the brain in adolescent football players. As has been discussed in the CJSM journal club as well as throughout the media, there are many consequences to sustaining a sport related concussion (SRC). One question yet to be answered, with advances in neuroimaging techniques, can structural alterations of the brain be observed using magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)? According to the authors, DTI can evaluate microscale white matter (WM) changes. This is potentially important as WM changes may be detected even without clinical signs of a SRC. More specifically, the measurable metrics include fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (RD), axial diffusivity (AD), and mean diffusivity (MD). According to prior research, RD, AD, and MD are sensitive to detect WM changes in athletes participating in contact sports. Hence, we present “Relative Head Impact Exposure and Brain White Matter Alterations After a Single Season of Competitive Football: A Pilot Comparison of Youth Versus High School Football.”

Purpose: To determine preseason to postseason changes in WM integrity from repetitive head impacts for youth football (YFB) players compared with HS football players during a competitive football season.

Hypothesis(es): The magnitude of WM changes would be greater for YFB than for HS football players.

Methods/Design:  Prospective study with IRB approval and consent and assent obtained. Read more of this post

What to do about heading?

Heading the ball — photo courtesy of Wikimedia

I have been meaning to write a blog post for over a week, since a bit of breaking sports medicine news occurred with the publication of some research in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

It took a Tweet this morning to rouse me to action.  I promise it hasn’t been sloth on my part that has slowed my hand, but pleading “I’m busy” to the group of folks who usually will be reading CJSM media is not going to gain much sympathy.

And yes, with fall sports, I sure have been busy.  But I am sure you have too.

I hope, however, not too busy to have missed this piece of research from NEJM: “Neurodegenerative Disease Mortality Among Former Professional Soccer Players.”  There was an accompanying editorial to this study, a piece that is most definitely worth a read too. “Soccer and Mortality — Good News and Bad News”

The published research was a large retrospective cohort study looking at former professional Scottish football (soccer) players: 7676 cases were identified from databases of Scottish football players and 23,028 controls (3:1) from the ‘general population’ were identified using a Scottish ‘Community Health Index.’ Controls were matched to players on the basis of sex, age, and degree of social deprivation.  Of note, all the participants in this study were male.The researchers looked at two dependent outcome variables:  i) cause of death as noted on death certificates and ii) dispensed medications, information for which was obtained from the Scottish national Prescribing Information System.  Follow up information for study participants was for a median of 18 years (for each individual, “Age was used as the time covariate, with follow-up from age 40 years to the date of data censoring, which was either the date of death or the end of the follow up (December 31, 2016), whichever occurred first).”

The researchers report several important findings in this study, to note just a few:

Read more of this post

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