Indiana State University Newsroom



Athletic training profs, students study effects of core body temperature pill

September 30, 2009

It is 95 degrees outside. The coach yells out to his team, "Water break!" Fifty members of the football team at Indiana State University run over to the sidelines to fill their bodies with a nice, cool drink of water.

Having shoulder and leg pads on as well as a helmet can make it a little hard to keep cool in the summer sun, raising concern about the athletes' core body temperature.

There have been sudden deaths among football players around the country from heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Susan Yeargin, assistant professor of athletic training at Indiana State, started researching ways to prevent heat stroke and heat exhaustion during her graduate studies at the University of Florida. A football player died of heat stroke during her first week at Florida.

"I want to help prevent this from happening in the future," she said. "One way to do that is with the research of the telemetric temperature pill that monitors core body temperature of athletes."

Yeargin has been researching the telemetric temperature pill for seven years. She has administered and monitored the pill with football players at Florida, the University of Connecticut and Indiana State.

She recently concluded a research study on the telemetric temperature pill at ISU. Lindsay Eberman, assistant professor of athletic training, and graduate students Adam Hernandez of San Antonio and Adam Moore of Terre Haute, were part of Yeargin's team on the project.

The research study was about answering questions about the telemetric temperature pill like how swallowing water affects the readings of the pill and the different digestion rates of athletes. They also looked at different research that had been done about the pill to understand what solutions have been made and what questions still need to be answered.

There have been validity studies on the pill, but none that they have seen that focuses on water consumption or digestion.

"Exertional heat stroke happens when the body temperature climbs above 104 degrees," Moore said. "The athletes need to be able to drink water while taking the pill to stay hydrated."

They found that water does not affect the readings of the pill if the pill is in the digestive tract of the athlete.

After the study was complete, Yeargin went on to do some further studies on an individual football player on ISU's squad.

At the start of ISU's football practices, Yeargin monitored the student-athlete. She administered three telemetric temperature pills to the football player the night before three different practices. This way the pill would be in his digestive tract during morning practice.

"This pill monitors, records and reports core body temperature at the time it is in the digestive tract," she said. "This helps the athletic trainers find out what drills and what activities during practice or games make body temperatures rise to dangerous levels."

Inside the pill, there is a crystal that vibrates to the body temperature and sends radio signals to a monitoring device outside of the player's body. This device displays up to 99 different pills' results.

"A lot of teams use the telemetric temperature pill," Yeargin said. "We want even more teams to start using it. Unfortunately, each pill costs around $30."

In latter part of the 1980s, NASA teamed up with Johns Hopkins University to create the ingestible temperature pill to monitor the body temperature of astronauts in space. The pill became available for research in universities in 1988.

The telemetric temperature pill is FDA approved. The company HQ, Inc. manufactures the pill under the brand name CorTemp.


Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/619065455_UB6dz-L.jpg -
Susan Yeargin, assistant professor of athletic training at Indiana State University, takes the core body temperature of a football player who has ingested a telemetric temperature sensor pill. The pill contains a tiny radio transmitter that sends information to a receiver capable of monitoring up to 99 individual pills.

Contact: Susan Yeargin, assistant professor of athletic training, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, 812-237-3962 or susan.yeargin@indstate.edu

Writer: Bailee Souder, media relations intern, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or bsouder1@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Athletic training professors and students at Indiana State University conduct research on football players using a "temperature pill" to monitor core body temperature - a major concern for athletes who often conduct strenuous workouts in high temperature environments.

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