12/02/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 12/02/2020 17:13
Young athletes in central Pennsylvania can't wait to start basketball and wrestling season. But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, parents wonder how their children can stay safe. And, if their child gets COVID-19, parents wonder when it's safe for that child to get back to competitive sports.
December 2, 2020Penn State Health News
A team of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center sports medicine, family medicine and pediatric cardiology practitioners have implemented new return-to-play guidelines that help providers, young athletes (ages 18 and younger), their parents and coaches find answers.
The guidelines seek to reduce the risk for myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), a possible complication in serious COVID-19 cases. 'Most people with myocarditis won't have chest pain or shortness of breath, and they may feel fine at rest,' says Dr. Matthew Silvis, vice chair of clinical operations in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Hershey Medical Center and director of primary care sports medicine for Penn State Health. 'But having myocarditis increases your risk for sudden cardiac death during exercise.' Myocarditis often can be found on an electrocardiogram (EKG), a test of the heart's electrical function.
The guidelines - based on recommendations from the American College of Cardiology, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the National Federation of High School Sports - recommend that young athletes:
The guidelines apply to athletes participating in school-sponsored sports, travel leagues and recreational leagues. 'We define competitive as any level above and beyond the normal level of childhood play,' said Dr. Joseph Andrie, a sports medicine physician at Hershey Medical Center.
While the connection between myocarditis and COVID-19 remains unclear, some college athletes have shown signs of heart inflammation, according to a September article published in JAMA Cardiology. 'We're implementing our guidelines out of an abundance of caution so young athletes can increase the intensity of their exercise and know their heart is functioning normally,' Silvis said.
In addition to following their doctors' return-to-play recommendations, youth athletes can also take these six steps to stay safe during sports this winter:
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