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Expert Alert

Combating heat stroke in kids during the Schwan's USA Cup Soccer Tournament

July 18, 2011

This week, more than 950 youth soccer teams from across the world will gather for the Schwan’s USA Cup in Blaine, Minnesota. And due to the consistency of July’s rising temperatures, a number of players—especially those used to cooler climates—may be susceptible to heat stroke. A University of Minnesota expert who can speak on the dangers of heat stroke for youth soccer players and how to prevent it is:

Bill Roberts, University of Minnesota Physician sports medicine doctor and professor in the Medical School

Heat stroke occurs when the body produces more heat than it can remove; in essence, the body overheats from the inside.

When this happens, nutrients aren’t pumped effectively through the body. The heart gets overheated and can’t pump as well, toxins leak from the gut into the blood stream and the liver doesn’t have the capacity to get rid of them. With this multi-system failure, the brain also doesn’t think as clearly, so athletes may not realize they are suffering from heat stroke until after they collapse.

Fortunately, the USA Cup tournament staff has developed a heat safety program to help keep athletes safe. The medical advisory board monitors heat stress on athletes and implements changes to games as needed. Under normal conditions, play continues as usual. As temperatures continue to rise, game times shorten, an increase in substitutions is allowed and players get additional water breaks.

A member of the USA Cup medical advisory board, Roberts says there are a number of ways to help prevent heat stroke. This includes staying well hydrated and making sure one’s body is acclimated to the heat prior to the tournament. Roberts also notes that coaches, too, can play a role in preventing heat stroke.

“When it gets hot out, coaches need to keep an eye on their players, especially the younger ones,” he says. “If they look exhausted and aren’t functioning as they normally do, get them off the field and let them cool off with water.”

Roberts is available for media interviews Monday, July 18 from noon to 3 p.m. and Tuesday, July 19, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. To schedule an interview, contact Emily Jensen, Academic Health Center, (612) 624-9163,; Kelly O’Connor, Academic Health Center, (612) 624-5680,; or Jeff Falk, University News Service, (612) 626-1720,

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: Academic Health Center

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