Brevard Public Schools Mandates Electrocardiogram Testing for Student Athletes
Far too often, we hear stories of young, promising athletes who pass away unexpectedly from undetected heart issues. In an attempt to protect our students and their families, Brevard Public Schools (BPS) has created a policy mandating electrocardiogram (ECG) testing for all student athletes.
Electrocardiograms help identify athletes who may be at risk for sudden death from loss of heart function. An ECG may also assist with diagnosing several different heart conditions that put athletes at risk. BPS recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Who We Play For (WWPF), an organization committed to early identification of cardiac conditions in student athletes. Students will be able to have the ECG done at a variety of dates and times at a cost of $20. If a student qualifies for free or reduced lunch status, they are eligible for a free screening through WWPF.
All student athletes in grades 7-12 who plan on participating in fall sports will need a completed ECG consent/opt-out form. That form either gives WWPF permission to administer an ECG at one of several dates already established around the county, or allows parents/guardians to decline and ‘opt out’ of testing. Regardless of which decision parents/guardians make related to ECG testing, the ECG consent/opt-out form is required for athletic participation for the 2019/20 school year.
As of this article deadline, WWPF has screened 1,921 BPS student athletes. Of those, 77 were flagged and recommended for follow-up exams by the team of cardiologists who read the results, and 10 were found to be at higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
One of those student athletes is Chris Cofer, son of Brandy Cofer, a Brevard Public Schools middle school teacher. As a lifelong athlete, Chris plays football and baseball. The Cofer family learned about the ECG testing through messages from Brevard Public Schools. In preparation for the upcoming sports season, Chris underwent the quick test, and much to their surprise, he was flagged for follow-up and ended up needing surgical intervention to correct a potentially lethal issue.
When asked about her thoughts regarding this experience, Brandy Cofer said, “My children are all healthy and very active; I thought this would be just a formality. I never thought it would be my child with a congenital and potentially lethal heart condition.
“Through Who We Play For’s connections with Nemours Children’s Hospital, the hospital reached out to me within days of the screening and we were able to have the treatment within two weeks. Thanks to WWPF and BPS, my child will not be a devastating statistic.”
— Brevard Public Schools
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