Blog: May 3, 2013

Athletes Sought for SCT Study

Graduate student Carroll Flansburg of the University of South Florida is conducting a study funded by the NCAA on collegiate football players who carry Sickle Cell Trait (SCT). The project has been thoroughly reviewed by the University of South Florida's Institutional Review Board and has incorporated the necessary safeguards to ensure participant safety and confidentiality. The NCAA Research Committee would like athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and athletic administrators to encourage at-risk athletes to participate in this important study.

There are five different types of sickle cell mutations. In people who have sickle cell anemia, it has long been known that two of the five types of mutations cause worse health outcomes than the other three. The South Florida study, "Why Do Some Sickle Cell Carrier Athletes Suffer from Heat Illness?" hypothesizes that these two mutations may also cause ill health in those with SCT.

Participants will be asked to provide a genetic sample so that researchers can determine what type of mutation they carry and correlate it with information regarding their experiences with various symptoms, which will be gathered through a survey. The athletes' genetic information will be destroyed once it has been analyzed and will not be used for any other purposes. The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete.

"We appreciate you encouraging your athletes to participate," says Flansburg, the study's principle investigator. "Without your support, we do not think the athletes will be likely to participate.

"We expect that this project will help us understand why some, though not all, SCT athletes experience ill health during training," she continues. "We will provide our results to the NCAA so that athletes, coaches, and athletic trainers can make more informed decisions regarding SCT athletes."

For more information or to sign up for the study, go to: https://www.facebook.com/sicklecell.carriers

Contact Carroll Flansburg at 802.585.1054 or cflansbu@health.usf.edu with any questions or concerns.

To read more about the testing process to detect the sickle cell trait and how to respond to a positive result, read Testing for SCT, by Scott Anderson, ATC, Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Oklahoma.