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Media mention: Kinesiology professor’s research continues to protect student athletes

Kristen B. Morales

August 22, 2018

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Expertise from the University of Georgia College of Education helped shape rules for high school athletes that help keep them safe during hot late summer practices.

That’s part of the message shared earlier this month on The Weather Channel, which featured an interview with Don Corr, associate director of the Georgia High School Association. As school sports begin to ramp up, the segment offered a reminder of rules and regulations now in place—in Georgia and other states—to keep players safe.

For example, when wet bulb globe temperatures reach 87 degrees, the maximum outdoor practice time is two hours; between 90 and 92 degrees, high school athletes can practice a maximum of one hour. Over 92 degrees, outdoor workouts are prohibited.

These guidelines show a proven track record of success thanks to research done by department of kinesiology clinical professor Bud Cooper and former professor Mike Ferrara (now dean of the University of New Hampshire’s College of Health and Human Services). A study released in 2016 using data collected before and after the Georgia High School Association implemented practice rules in 2012 found the number of exertional heat illness incidents was reduced by about 70 percent after the rules were in place and no heat strokes or heat-related deaths were reported.

The study also found that exertional heat illness posed the greatest risk during the first six days of practice. In the Weather Channel interview, Corr said coaches must give players time to acclimate to the heat, especially in sports such as football, where pads and helmets add to the stress of high temperatures. “We have an acclimation period as part of this policy, too. So they have five days before the first days of practice to get acclimated to the temperatures.”

He added that coaches receive training in detecting heat illness, and school athletic trainers are also part of the line of defense.