Sickle cell: Per the NCAA, “Sickle cell trait is the inheritance of one gene for sickle hemoglobin and one for normal hemoglobin”. This trait can change the shape of erythrocytes from round to a round quarter moon. The quarter moon shape of the blood cells can cause a “jam” in blood vessels, preventing blood flow to organs including the kidneys, muscles and heart. Lack of oxygen and nutrients can ultimately lead to tissue death. Death of muscle tissue leads to a release of myoglobin amongst other enzymes into the blood stream. Increase in exertion causes an increased risk of erythrocytes changing shape.
NCAA policy: “Screening for sickle cell trait as part of the medical examination process is required in Division I, Division II and Division III institutions unless documented results of a prior test are provided to the institution or the student-athlete or prospective student-athlete declines the test and signs a written release.” 2013-2014 Sports Medicine Handbook NCAA
Northern Vermont University-Lyndon Policy: R equires all student-athletes to either be tested for sickle cell trait, or show proof from a physician that sickle cell testing was not done and not deemed necessary.
Athlete will not take part in varsity training until testing results, or lack thereof testing, is on file with Athletic Training.
Lyndon State College WILL NOT hold an athlete from participating if they test positive for sickle cell trait. Per the NATA, athletes with sickle cell trait should:
- “Build up slowly in training with paced progressions, allowing longer periods of rest and recovery between repetitions.
- Encourage participation in preseason strength and conditioning programs to enhance the preparedness of athletes for performance testing which should be sports-specific. Athletes with sickle cell trait should be excluded from participation in performance tests such as mile runs, serial sprints, etc., as several deaths have occurred from participation in this setting.
- Cessation of activity with onset of symptoms [muscle ‘cramping’, pain, swelling, weakness, tenderness; inability to "catch breath", fatigue].
- If sickle-trait athletes can set their own pace, they seem to do fine.
- All athletes should participate in a year-round, periodized strength and conditioning program that is consistent with individual needs, goals, abilities and sport-specific demands. Athletes with sickle cell trait who perform repetitive high speed sprints and/or interval training that induces high levels of lactic acid should be allowed extended recovery between repetitions since this type of conditioning poses special risk to these athletes.”