My son was diagnosed last year. He played youth tackle football at the time but we were still doing shots. This year he will join the JV team and he has a t-slim pump. So far, he has taken his pump off for practices. I would like to find out from others if they played tackle football…did they play with a pump? If so, how did you keep the pump on?
His doctor has said it is okay for him to be off the pump but his bg has run high.
i am not a football player (I am a bit too small). Tackle football is a challenge because hitting or falling on your pump can be a bruising experience. I can’t think of a safe place where you don’t risk getting hit. Staying disconnected for the whole 2+ hours (the whole game) can be a challenge as well because you need just a little basal insulin or your sugar will run high. I would think that suspending and disconnecting the pump while he is on the field would not be a problem, if he’s willing to test and adjust while he is on the bench. IF he’s literally on the field for 45 minutes to an hour, or he’s sensitive to re-connecting during the game, then maybe a hybrid treatment plan could be made. This would be where you take a long acting shot for a reduced basal rate, then you connect the pump only when needed for a correction, but this way you could easily stay disconnected for 2+ hours. you can set up patterns or programs for reduced pump basal, so that for the 12-20 hours after the game he will get some basal from the shot and the rest from the pump. it takes a bit of practice, but it’s possible.
My son has played tackle for 4 years now. Although he is still at the middle school level, and I’m sure the hits aren’t quite as big, he does play on both the offensive and defensive lines and is often in on special teams as well. He has worn his pump for practices and games with little issue. He keeps his pump in a belt pouch (kind of like a small fanny pack for pumps) we ordered thru Medtronic. This keeps the pump close to his body. He uses this belt as his uniform belt. The pump is centered in front at his waistline. His sites are usually in his thigh and covered by pads in his football girdle. We do use extra tape on the site to make sure it stays in. He’s yet to receive an injury from the pump or damage to the pump. Granted, with his positions he’s not taking direct hits to the midsection, and perhaps that helps. If your son is a QB, RB, WR, TE, or other position where he’d be carrying the ball often and therefore often on the receiving end of some hard tackles, it could be different. If the pump won’t work for him, perhaps he could switch back to injections for practice/games? Good luck!
I did football at varsity level with a pump. my doctors had me take my pump off but also had me take a 24 hour insulin by injection (half of what i would need for a 24 hr if I was on injections) . So when it came time to play I would take my pump off but i had some 24 hr insulin working through my system covering for what I would need with the pump. If my sugars got to high I would quickly put my pump back on to deliver the insulin then take it back off. It wworked very well.
My son (who is 11) has played youth football the last two years, he is using the Omnipod. It has been terrific! He plays middle linebacker on defense and QB or tailback on offense. He is being tackled or tackling most of the time he is on the field. We have been able to locate the Omnipod on him so we can wrap it with tape or an ace bandage and keep it under his pads. It has kept his blood sugar level under control. He usually only tests at half-time and if we need to make adjustments either a snack or a small bolus we can. He has not had a malfunction while on the field or an instance when the pump has come loose or malfunctioned. He also plays hockey and runs track and he has found the Omnipod to be the best for all the sports he competes in.
Our son just finished his senior season of playing college football. He was diagnosed right after his high school junior season. He’s never worn a pump but would try to go into a game around 200 and then check his BG at halftime. If he was low, he’d eat a banana. He’s a punter and is not supposed to get hit… but he’s taken some hard knocks. Unlike most diabetics, his blood glucose drops when he’s under stress so he’s usually on the sidelines sipping Gatorade. Good luck to your son!
I played high school football and college football at the division 2 level. I continue to coach at the high school level. I was not pumping until my freshman year in college, but played for 4 more years with a pump.
I would always remove my pump for practices, games, etc. Surprisingly, I experienced more lows during practice that highs due to the high activity level. At first, I would give myself a few extra units before taking off my pump, and that is what caused my lows. When I stopped worrying about it and just took it off without the extra units, I was usually good for several hours.
Always make sure the the coach or athletic trainer has some knowledge about T1D and has some glucose tabs or something that can be given as needed.
T1D should not restrict an athlete at all!
Thanks for the post.
Man i am loving reading this thread!!! I am new to the JDRF groups but i am a retired football player with diabetes. I played at Rice University from '99-'03 and then in the NFL from '03-'07 as a Defensive End. Great Job parents of finding ways to make diabetes work for your kids. I was diagnosed when i was 10 years old and had a great support staff at home. I cannot agree more with ddawson that your son should still be able to play football, he just has to be disciplined with it.
As for me i played while taking the shot. I wasn’t comfortable with switching to the pump after i started my career and although teams were supportive, if i had issues with it and couldn’t play i would loose my job, so i stuck with what i knew. I think the pump could be worn, but different positions would probably suite it better. The older you get i would assume the more difficult wearing them on the Line would be. OL/DL there is a lot of rubbing/scrapes at awkward places since you are around a lot of guys in a big mess. I would agree that RB would probably be tough as well, but i would think the further from the line you get the better chance you would have of not ripping one out. DB/WR/Safeties/QB would probably not have as much contact in practice and in games as well.
When i took shots (this is when CGM’s were just coming out) i just had to take my blood sugar a bunch. During training camps i averages over 20 times a day. With CGM’s this is much easier, but you still have the “tear out” possibility. For more advanced athletes the night before is a great time to wear the CGM because the better your blood sugar the better your rest and muscle recovery is which allows for a well hydrated performance. I will leave you guys with a few thoughts i wrote for some college athletes in hopes that it may help, but keep playing. I never had blood sugars as good as i did when i was in football 2-days. Not that i want to do them again, i’m just saying…
- know not just where my BG is at but what direction it is going. CGM’s make this much easier. ex: if you are 150 that’s good, but not if you were 200 20 minutes ago. If you’re going into competition like that i would have taken a little sugar and for sure a complex carbohydrate wit protein so i don’t have a mid competition crash.
- I started using powdered Gatorade in College and it made a world of difference. You can make it really strong so that you don’t have to drink 3 or 4 Gatorades in a practice if your having a “low” day. Sometimes you can get an upset stomach if it is too strong, but i always hated having a sloshing stomach from too much Gatorade. Powdered Gatorade also wont freeze in cold climates if you ever skiing or playing in really cold weather. I have also used dried fruits when skiing as they can mold to your body in your jacket and will not freeze. In the same way you may need a cooler to keep your meter in if in really hot climates. (I had to do that when the Arizona Cardinals played in an outdoor stadium… man that was HOT!!!)
- I had “trigger points” that i would use when going into practice/competitions. If i was below 130 i would have some sort of complex carbohydrate with some protein to help me make it through the entire practice. Something that would kick in an hour or 2 into it. If i was below 130 i would sip on gatorade and water alternating during any breaks. If i was above 150 i would just drink water. And if i ever got below 90 i’d hit the gatorade pretty hard.
- Letting high blood sugars ride it out. I’ve never asked a doctor on this one, but going into (the day before and day of) competitions were tough for me. Typically you get off your normal workout schedule to let your body rest and you have some adrenaline which does some weird stuff to your sugar, but one thing i really started doing as a professional was when i got within 1 hour of the competition, i would let a high blood sugar ride it out. I could never perform (or feel as good while performing) with a high blood sugar, but the crash out effect would absolutely shut me down for the day if i adjusted and brought it down too close to the game/practice. If i was in the 300 and tried right up until gametime to get it in range, it was typically uncontrollable throughout the competition and with the crazy drop, even if my blood sugar was good i felt horrible and was already exhausted before i even did anything. I just decided to ride out my HIGHS when i was within an hour of gametime/practice and just chalk it up as a tough day. Obviously i tried to hydrate as much as i could and just try to wait till halftime when i had to pee You will notice a shift in performance from dehydration, but i just couldn’t play on a “low crash fatigue”. The way i could tell is i could do about 7-8 plays full speed before needing a break in the NFL. When my blood sugar was over 240 that normally dropped to 4 plays and i would have a really dry mouth and dead legs. Those days i just had to fight through and call it a “tough day”.
I know this is long but sometimes the simple changes for me made a world of difference. You guys keep it up and look forward to seeing you/your kids great athletic achievements.
My son is a senior in high school and has played football for 7 years. He has never worn his Medtronic pump during play, mostly for fear of landing on it during a play. He does wear his Dexcom CGM sensor on the back of his arm, which he covers with a plastic oval cup and tape. Since his practices can be 3 hours long, even with testing and connecting to bolus in the middle of practice, he has found that during football season, it is just easier to use Lantus for 1/2 of his basal rate.