Football teams have players undergo heart screenings for safety

Catholic High School football player undergoes heart screening in August 2012.
Catholic High School football player undergoes heart screening in August 2012.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - High school and college athletes are getting ready to hit the field for football season and while hard hits are just the nature of the game, things can quickly take a serious turn.

Sometimes, it isn't even the hits that can send players to the hospital. Some teams are now asking players undergo special screenings.

In just a few weeks, stadiums will be filled with cheering fans and athletes. With so many tragedies happening on the field recently, everyone should be happy to know steps are being taken to make sure everyone's favorite game is safe for those playing in it.

Many football teams now have heart screenings performed on their players. Doctors at the Pediatric Cardiology Associates say the biggest threat to teen athletes is a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or a thickening of the heart.

It is the same condition that took the life of a Dutchtown High football player Burke Cobb last July. The test takes about 20 minutes to complete and records heart beat rhythms, photographs the heart and measures its chambers.

Doctors added hyterptrohpic cardiomyopathy has no symptoms and the test is usually the only way to detect it. Dr. Les Hixon said athletes should have their hearts screened throughout their high school, college and professional careers.

On the college level, the NCAA has made some changes to rules on tackling this year to make it safer for players on the field. Defensive players are banned from launching his body or arms into the head of an offensive player. The hits are known to cause concussions.

Now, in addition to the offending team losing 15 yards, the player responsible for the hit will be ejected from the game. If the hit is made in the second half of the game, the player has to sit out that half and the first half of the next game.

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