Does Your Kid Play High School Football? See a Doctor for a Thorough Physical

For the past two seasons, my son Alex was a member of the football team at Northwood High School in Irvine.  He played freshman in 2006 and was a member of a combined JV/Varisty team last fall.  Northwood recently lost a young man, Dylan Bradshaw, who collapsed after a a Spring football practice in late May.  He went into cardiac arrest and died a short time later.  I gave Dylan a ride home after a summer camp practice last summer. I didn’t know him.  Alex did.  Dylan was a polite and nice young man, appreciative of a ride home on a hot summer day.

The coroner’s office reports that the cause of Dylan’s death was a congential heart defect; something that the basic physical that high school athletes at Northwood receive before the season starts would not uncover.

Dylan’s death is a tragedy for all involved; his mom, who gave a moving eulogy of her son at the service; the players on the team who lost a friend, the coaches and administrators at Northwood.  Its simply a tragedy to lose a healthy 15 year old boy with his whole life ahead of him. 

The team and coaching staff has dedicated their season to Dylan.  It’s a selfless and commendable act by a closeknit community.

That said, I encourage parents of any high school athlete to get a thorough physical from their family doctor.  I remember the physicals I got in high school and they were a lot more thorough than the one my son had to start football (no “turn your head and cough”, for example).  I don’t know if the physicals administered at Northwood are based on a school standard, an IUSD standard or a CIF standard; and I’m no doctor.  But I would prefer to place the trust of my children’s health in the hands of our personal physician over the physicals administered at my kid’s high school.  X-Rays, EKGs, the whole nine yards.

And I think the coaching staff needs to review the medical release forms for their players so they can keep a better eye on some kids.  My own son has a hearing loss and coaches were unaware of this even though it was on forms I had to complete. 

After Dylan’s death, this story came out about more rigorous screening at IUSD.  I’m glad its in place, but I don’t think its enough.