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After Son's Ordeal, Parents Warn Others Of Overexertion

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Virginia law now requires student athletes showing signs of concussion to be removed from the court or the playing field immediately after the incident.
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Virginia law now requires student athletes showing signs of concussion to be removed from the court or the playing field immediately after the incident.

Now, they want to warn others about the complications that can stem from overexertion.

Following a series of strenuous pre-football conditioning exercises at Wootton one day in early May, freshman Brian Jordan started having discomfort in his arms and legs. Brian's father, David Jordan, says his son found the workout "harder than normal," but his mother, Sue Jordan, says "he felt compelled by the coaches to complete" the workout.

"His arms swelled up hugely tight, and he could not use his arms," Sue Jordan says.

Brian was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis. Doctors say the condition is caused by severe muscle overexertion which degrades the tissues and requires extensive surgery.

"The reason he had seven surgeries was because they had to keep going back and cutting out the muscle that had died," says Sue Jordan, "and the dead tissue can cause sepsis."

Physicians list multiple causes for the onset of rhabdomyolysis, including extreme physical exercise especially when dehydrated. Dr. David Charles says there are warning signs.??

"Usually patients who suffer from moderate to severe Rhabdomyolysis they says they have a constant charlie horse, or they can't move their leg, it's not being relieved and it's getting worse," he says.

Brian wasn't the only one at the session that experienced problems that day. Four other students were admitted to the hospital in varying stages of the muscular problem after the conditioning program that day, according to school officials.

Wootton High School has responded. A letter to parents that Wootton High officials posted on the school's website in May notes "several young athletes ended up hospitalized" after attending the same session as Brian on May 4.

The after-school program was suspended for several days, and school officials scheduled a meeting for June 7 to address parents' concerns. [WAMU was denied access to this meeting.]

Principal Dr. Michael Doran says the exercise Brian had been doing has been eliminated from the conditioning program, and the program has been modified.

"Triangulated push-ups" have been eliminated from the regimen, and the school has re-emphasized that the conditioning programs need to be delineated by student level, according to the letter to parents.

"It was apparent that with such a large group of students, we need to differentiate the workouts to meet the needs of the individual more closely," the letter states.

The school's administration sent an email to coaches emphasizing this point: "The program must be differentiated for varying ability levels," the email noted. "In other words Freshmen [sic], or those new to the program, must not be subjected to the same level of difficulty as the upperclassmen and/or those weeks into a program."

In addition, one coach that had been involved with the conditioning is no longer coaching. "There's one coach who is no longer coaching," says Doran. The principal declines to say whether the coach that has left the program was the one that involved in the training program when Brian was injured, or whether his departure was related to Brian's injury.

"That's a personnel issue," says Doran. "But he's not in the program anymore, so, he's not in the program anymore."

Brian lost part of his triceps to the industry. He is recovering from his ordeal at home, and faces three months of physical therapy.

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