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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Can a person with sickle cell anemia do contact sports?

Hi Moller.
My name is "N" and I am currently doing some research for a book. I am wondering whether you can help me.
My question is - is it possible for someone with sickle cell anemia (or any other kind) to be able to participate in karate and/or judo? How long would it be possible for a person living with such a condition to exert themselves for?
How does this disease of iron deficiency effect lifestyle?
Hopefully, you can take some time out and enlighten me on these questions. It would be very helpful.
Warm regards and thanking you in advance.
Gary Moller comments:
Thanks for the interesting and challenging inquiry.

With regards to contact sports such as judo and karate I would not rule these out for a person with sickle cell anaemia (It just so happens that I am involved as a parent in judo). The risk of such sports is in the risk of causing unnecessary bruising and injury to the spleen by a blow to the abdomen (The spleen may be enlarged by the disease and therefore vulnerable to a blow).

Exercise is healthy and sports like judo and karate are wonderful all-round forms of exercise. They are opportunities for socialisation and the benefits of getting out and about in a familiar and supportive environment can never be under-valued when living with chronic illness that tends to progress over time. I could not think of anything better for a person with sickle cell anaemia to get involved in. I say: "Go for it!"

However; there is a major caution: That is to refrain from the contact forms of these sports that risk more than minimal bruising or blows to the body.

I do not think I can answer the second question because so much depends on the individual.

With regards to your question about how this condition affects lifestyle, I can only be general. My understanding, in addition to what I have said about care doing contact sports, is the person needs to take care to avoid infection due to reduced resistance. They may also need to avoid extremes of heat and cold - dehydration and so on.

It makes sense to be on a nutrient dense diet that supports a robust immune system and healthy haemoglobin. There would be a need to ensure iron levels are optimum and it makes sense to take a number of nutritional supplements such as vitamin C, all the B vitamins and vitamin E. Exact nutritional needs would vary depending on the individual's circumstances, medications and any other health issues that may be present.

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