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>>USF Sports Medicine Institute Studies New Technology to Protect Athletes from Heat Illness

sports medicine heat pillTampa, FL (August 12, 2005)  – Doctors at the University of South Florida are studying new technology that will help prevent heat illness in athletes. This cutting edge research allows doctors to administer an electronic pill the size of a multivitamin to athletes prior to training in hot weather. The pill monitors the body temperature from the inside of the athlete.

Thanks to a $20,000 grant from the National Football League, Eric Coris, MD, assistant professor of Family Medicine and Director of USF Sports Medicine, conducted tests on USF Bulls football players on Friday, August 12, 2005, during their first practice of the season in full pads.

"At USF, the pills are going to the offensive and defensive line, because those players tend to be larger and more at risk for heat illness," Dr. Coris said.

Players swallow the silicone coated pills two to three hours before practice. Inside each silicone-coated pill is a crystal temperature sensor, battery and electronic transmitter. The crystal vibrates in response to the temperature surrounding it, producing an accurate reading once the pill travels into the intestines. The pill transmits a low-frequency magnetic signal to an external data recorder held outside the body.

On the sidelines Dr. Coris can study the data through computer readings. If a player's body temperature is too hot, an alarm goes off to alert the trainer. This data can be used to prevent potentially life-threatening heat illness in athletes.

Dr. Coris also has applied for a federal grant to use the electronic pill on other athletes in a laboratory, where heat and humidity can be carefully controlled, to look for the earliest signs of heat illness.

The pills are made by HQ Inc., a Palmetto company that licenses the technology from Johns Hopkins University. Johns Hopkins developed the pills in the 1980s with a grant from NASA.

Athletes in the Bay Area who practice and train outdoors wearing heavy pads and helmets in scorching temperatures are most likely to suffer from heat related illness. The issue of heat related illness came to the forefront in 2001 when both University of Florida fullback Eraste Autin and NFL offensive tackle Korey Stringer of the Minnesota Vikings died from heat stroke.
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Responding to demand from Tampa's community leaders, the University of South Florida College of Medicine was established by the Florida Legislature in 1965. Part of the USF Health Sciences Center , doctors and researchers were awarded $116.6 million in grants and contracts last year. Providing advanced medical care, USF Physicians Group at the College of Medicine is the largest doctor group in West Central Florida offering expert medical care throughout Tampa Bay's finest hospitals such as Tampa General Hospital, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, Moffitt Cancer Center and All Children's Hospital. With a reputation for training high performing clinical physicians, the College is proud that more than half of its physician-graduates remain in Florida to practice medicine.