The growing trend of tragic sudden deaths of highly conditioned athletes after their football practices in recent years has rocked the country and raised some serious questions.

In summer of 2001, 335 pound Minnesota Vikings football star Korey Stringer collapsed in the trainers room immediately after practicing in high 90 degree heat. Stringer suffered heat stroke, his body heading into system failure after being unable to cool itself down. He was taken to a nearby hospital, but strangely never was able to recover, and he died suddenly overnight.

Then 3 days later, Northwestern University starting safety Rashidi Wheeler collapsed and died during drills held in more moderate temperatures.

Several more sudden deaths of athletes have occurred since that time, including participants in soccer, swimming and baseball as well. More than 25 high school or college athletes have suddenly died without warning while training for their sport since 1995, and concern alarms are finally beginning to go off in the heads of parents and many others in the athletic community.

Training procedures have been questioned, but more importantly, issues of how we determine health need to be examined. Why are these incidents becoming more prevalent and what can be done to prevent them? And why are some athletes affected, but others not?

There is a major x factor being missed in evaluating a player’s fitness for sport, and it must be addressed immediately to ensure athletes the best opportunity to train and perform their best, and at the least risk of either injury or a sudden death catastrophe.

It is well known that the nervous system controls every function of the human body, coordinating responses of brain and body, dictating performance in every way.

It is also well known that when the nervous system is overloaded with information or demand at any particular time, it shifts into emergency “fight or flight”, a mode of high defense and stress reaction, in order to compensate for the apparent danger or overload that the brain is perceiving.

What is not as well noticed is that when the nervous system is repeatedly overloaded with too much stimulus, it will lock the spinal cord into a constant pattern of high defense and stress physiology, losing it’s ability to fully change and adapt to the situation at hand.

When a person is locked in stress physiology even when they are not actually competing, this limits the range of choices their system has to deal with more stress.

When energy reserves or adaptability need to be increased even further, and body systems are already taxed to such a degree, demand is greater than what is healthy, and consequences even though their symptoms may not be medically diagnosable in the early stages.

What is even lessor known is that these defensive postures and stress physiology’s are measurable by non invasive and reliable examination methods and instrumentation currently in use today.

Imbalances of the skin temperature above spinal nerve roots has been shown to be clear indicators of dysfunction to the autonomic nerves, the nerves that control function of organs and the other major systems. These findings have been documented in medical research papers published in respected journals, including more recent work done at Johns Hopkins University.

Portions of the chiropractic profession have been focusing on locating spinal pressure separate from symptoms for many years, and many of those doctors have utilized various methods of skin temperature comparisons as part of their examination for the presence of spinal nerve pressure.

A growing minority of those doctors have been utilizing these tools for years, including the doctor who provided chiropractic care for the 2000 Women’s Olympic champion soccer team. (Most professional sports teams athletes have been utilizing chiropractic services for years, both to maximize best performance as well as help in healing or recovery of injury. In fact, a brief study done in 1991 showed athletes improved hand reaction and speed reaction time by 16.7% within 12 weeks of chiropractic care.)

Because such positive results tend to be so commonly achieved, most team chiropractic doctors do not even utilize the temperature scanning diagnostic tools to further evaluate function of the autonomic system.

A highly regarded M.D. in Germany, Dr. G. Gutrnann, reported in the journal Manuelle Medezin several years ago that over 80% of the children he checked had acquired spinal cord pressure in their neck by very early ages. This matches the findings of doctors of chiropractic specializing in performance or family wellness examinations. So the odds are great that most if not all of these athletes whom are suddenly dying have spinal nerve pressure by their later ages, impairing their ability to adapt to the life situation at hand.

The truth is, we don’t know for sure if all or even any of these deaths would have been averted by appropriate spinal care to help reduce pressure to the nervous system. But we do know without doubt that people without spinal nerve pressure are better able to adapt to their environment and perform at their natural best.

We need to educate ourselves, our neighbors, school officials and professionals.

Because I know something else. If I or child is exercising, training or competing in any way, I want that temperature scan as part of our fitness examination before we go out on any field or court. Or even before we go to school or work, for that matter.

Don’t you?

– Dr. Jeffrey Lupowitz

Are You or Your Child in Danger?

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