Sickle Cell Information
The NCAA mandates that prior to
participation in any intercollegiate athletic event, including
strength and conditioning sessions, practices, competitions, or
try-outs, all student-athletes have to confirm their sickle cell
trait status by providing proof of testing. Additionally,
each student athlete should be educated about sickle cell
What is Sickle
Cell Trait ?
- Sickle cell trait is an inherited condition of the
oxygen-carrying protein, hemoglobin, in the red blood cells.
- Although Sickle cell trait is most predominant in
African-Americans and those of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern,
Indian, Caribbean, and South and Central American ancestry, persons
of all races and ancestry may test positive for sickle cell
- Sickle cell trait is usually benign, but during intense,
sustained exercise, hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in the muscles may
cause sickling of red blood cells (red blood cells changing from a
normal disc shape to a crescent or "sickle" shape), which can
accumulate in the bloodstream and "logjam" blood vessels, leading
to collapse from the rapid breakdown of muscles starved of
- Likely sickling settings include timed runs, all out exertion
of any type for 2 - 3 continuous minutes without a rest period,
intense drills and other spurts of exercise after prolonged
conditioning exercises, and other extreme conditioning
- Common signs and symptoms of a sickle cell emergency include,
but are not limited to: increased pain and weakness in the working
muscles (especially the legs, buttocks, and/or low back); cramping
type pain of muscles; soft, flaccid muscle tone; and/or immediate
symptoms with no early warning signs.
- Quinnipiac Sports Medicine will make every effort to determine
a student athlete's sickle cell testing history. This will be
accomplished by informing new student athletes of the NCAA mandate
prior to their arrival on campus.
- For those student-athletes who are unsure of their status, the
department will request the student-athlete's to obtain their
records from birth (most infants are tested at birth).
- If the student athlete's birth records are not available, the
department of sports medicine will provide each athlete with the
opportunity to be tested.
- Sickle cell trait testing may be requested by the medical staff
if the student athlete has symptoms to suggest sickling such as
recurrent cramping or muscle injury.
confirmed positive for the sickle cell trait, the following
precautions will be taken in order to prevent
- The student athlete will slowly build up the intensity and
duration of their training with paced progressions. This will also
include longer periods for rest and recovery.
- The student athlete will participate in pre-season conditioning
programs in order to prepare them for the rigors of their
competitive seasons.The student athlete may have modified
performance tests such as mile runs, serial sprints, etc.
- The student athlete will stop all activity and seek medical
evaluation with the onset of symptoms such as "muscle cramping,"
pain, swelling, weakness, tenderness, fatigue, or the inability to
- The student athlete will be given the opportunity to set their
own pace during conditioning drills.
- The student athlete's participation may be altered during
periods of heat stress, dehydration, asthma, illness, or activity
in high altitudes.
Resources for more information:
NCAA WEBSITE HEALTH & SAFETY
Sickel Cell Trait Testing Form
Sickle Cell Waiver