September is Sickle Cell Trait Awareness month, and the Tulsa Public Schools athletics department has partnered with the TS3 Sickle Cell Trait Foundation to raise awareness of this medical condition in athletes. At football games this month, the schools will share information about the sickle cell trait during first quarter, half time, and third quarter. Football players are also wearing a sticker on their helmet to raise awareness.
Sickle Cell Trait is a hereditary condition that is a potentially life-threatening condition resulting from the sickling of red blood cells during intense exercise. The symptoms arise from a lack of oxygen to the muscles which may cause intense muscular pain, breathlessness, fatigue and even collapse. Physically active individuals with sickle cell trait should be knowledgeable of their condition and take precautions.
"The importance of a person knowing their Sickle Cell Trait status is so they can take steps to reduce the risk of having a sickling event, and if an event does happen, they and those around them can have a plan in place to take care of it so that it doesn’t have a tragic outcome," explained Tulsa Public Schools Sports Medicine Coordinator Steve Friebus.
Most athletes with Sickle Cell Trait don’t know they have it. Every baby born is required to have a blood test in the first week of life, and this test includes a screen for the sickle cell trait. The results of this test may be found in the state newborn screening records, and you can get them through your primary care provider. Prevention is about being aware and being educated.
For more information about Sickle Cell Trait, click here.