Month: May 2017

Sleep and Wellness Summit Recap

William M Adams, PhD, LAT, ATC

Vice President of Sport Safety

Sleep is an essential aspect of one’s health and normal physiologic function. It has been well documented within scientific literature that sleep restriction or sleep loss is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus II, obesity and other comorbidities. Additionally, in the context of sport or physical activity, alteration of one’s sleep has been shown to impair physical and cognitive performance, which could be the difference of a win or loss on the athletic playing field, loss of productivity or increased accidents on the job site or catastrophic outcome in military operations.

Narrowing down the issue of sleep and performance to a specific population, the collegiate student-athlete, is at the most risk of sleep loss or restriction. The collegiate student-athlete’s schedule may be one of the most demanding schedules of individuals in the 18 to 22-year-old age bracket; these student-athletes not only have the demands of training and competing in their sport, but are also responsible for managing a full work load as a student and fulfilling any open time to the social aspect of being a college student. It is not uncommon for some of these athletes to be putting in 40-80 hours of week of work centered on their sport and academic work.

To address the issue of student-athlete sleep and overall wellness at the collegiate level, the NCAA Sport Science Institute convened an inter-association task force to discuss this topic. Forty individuals including representatives from all three NCAA athletics divisions, student-athlete representatives across all divisions, representatives from leading medical organizations in this area, and researchers whose expertise focuses on the effects of sleep on various aspects of physiological function (e.g., performance, cognition, diet and metabolism, recovery and risk of injury). I was one of the guest speakers who had the opportunity to present some preliminary data examining sleep on risk of injury and recovery during a competitive soccer season. The topics that were presented aided in stimulating the follow up discussions centered on developing an overall consensus and recommendations to carry forward in the development of evidence-based best practice recommendations to enhance the wellness of collegiate student athletes.

In the coming months, the attendees from this meeting will be working hard to develop these evidence-based recommendations to delivery to the NCAA and to submit for peer-reviewed publication.  This is exciting news and the NCAA is highly commended for their efforts in striving to further enhance the health and safety of our collegiate student-athletes.

KSI 6th Annual Fundraising Gala

Gabrielle Giersch, Associate Director of Education and Assistant Director of Athlete Performance and Safety

On May 11th KSI hosted our 6th annual fundraising gala at the NFL headquarters in New York City. Our staff traveled down and were humbled and honored by the incredible turnout and support from those that attended. The efforts of KSI to prevent sudden death and maximize safety and performance were major topics of remarks made throughout the night.

We were honored by the presence of several of our corporate partners who help immensely to making the mission of KSI a reality. It was truly a night for people to come together in joyous support of the work of KSI and their role in it. We were especially excited to welcome since it was their first KSI event as a corporate partner!

We were able to honor three incredible people with our KSI awards. The 2017 KSI Lifesaving Research Award was presented to R. Dawn Comstock, PhD from the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado, the 2017 KSI Lifesaving Service Award was presented to James L. Thornton, ATC from Clarion University, and the 2017 KSI Lifesaving Education Award was presented to Brain Hainline, MD, CMO of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Big congratulations to all award winners!!

As a follow-up from the announcements from the last year’s fundraising gala, it was announced that all proceeds from the 6th annual fundraising gala were going toward the heat lab equipment fund. After some unforeseen circumstances that increased the cost, we have decided to raise additional funds for the lab equipment, instead of compromising the quality of the facility. University of Connecticut generously pledged to offer the account up to $200,000, if KSI can raise $130,000. Donations can be made from our website:

We would like to give a special thanks to the UConn Foundation for assistance in helping the evening run so smoothly. We also cannot thank the attendees enough for traveling to attend the event, proudly showing your support for KSI and our mission, and always being so generous with your time and advocacy.


For the photos of the gala please visit the link below:


Grieving Parents Keep Only Son’s Legacy Alive (

By: Sandy Eller
Like so many other parents, Ellen and Mark Newman of Great Neck took their son Ariel to New York’s John F. Kennedy airport to see him off as he embarked on a gap year that was filled with promise, that would help him grow in his Torah studies and would also give him a deep appreciation for the land of Israel. Little did they know that in just over one week, their only child, conceived after years of fertility treatments, would be dead, having succumbed to heat exhaustion after a grueling two day hike in the Judean Desert.

Ellen Newman recalls just how happy she and her husband had been months earlier when they decided on a yeshiva program in Gush Etzion for 18-year-old Ariel, then a student at Yeshiva University High School for Boys.

“It was half a day learning and the rest of the day was other activities,” Mrs. Newman told Olam Yehudi. “We thought this program was perfect because of its emphasis on the love of the land, love of the people and the love of the Torah. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have found this yeshiva for Ariel.”

Tragically, nothing could have been further from the truth.

On September 9, 2014, the seventh day of the yeshiva term, Ariel and his classmates set out for a two-day hike in the Judean Desert. The outside temperature was classified as “extreme heat,” hardly appropriate weather to take a group of young men who were not seasoned hikers and had yet to accustom themselves to the extremely hot Israeli climate.

The first day of the trek, which included hiking through waterfalls, proceeded smoothly enough, but things deteriorated on the second day. Most of the young men had slept poorly during the night, kept awake by biting insects. By 8:00 a.m. the next day, the group was moving again and temperatures soared as high as 98 degrees with no cooling waters to refresh the hikers as they trudged on. On several occasions, Ariel begged the tour guide to evacuate him to safety, telling him he could not continue, but his pleas went unheeded. At 2:00 p.m., after six hours of hiking under punishing conditions, Ariel collapsed. Doctors at Hadassah Medical Center were unable to revive him as his internal body temperature measured a shocking 109 degrees. The medical staff could do nothing but call the Newmans and tell them their only son was dead.

It wasn’t until weeks later that the Newmans learned the true cause of Ariel’s death: exertional heat stroke and dehydration. Both could have been easily prevented.

The more research the Newmans did on EHS the more they realized that while they couldn’t bring back their son, they could take steps to prevent others from the devastating loss they had endured. They got to work with experts in the field, putting together a document called “Ariel’s Checklist” to raise awareness about EHS, which can cause severe organ damage or even death.

Available in Hebrew and English, “Ariel’s Checklist” is a ten-point guide compiled over a 14-month period by the Newmans in conjunction with Dr. Robert Huggins and Dr. Douglas Casa of the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute and Professor Yoram Epstein of the Heller Institute of Medical Research of Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. A lengthier and more detailed version of “Ariel’s Checklist” is available for those who lead hikes.

“‘Ariel’s Checklist’ has the approval of the world’s two leading scientific authorities,” said Mark Newman. “It is 100% scientifically valid.”

Among the steps listed in “Ariel’s Checklist” are ensuring that individuals be given 10 to 14 days to acclimatize themselves to an unfamiliar climate, wear loose fitting clothing, get at least six to eight hours of sleep prior to engaging in strenuous activity, and drink enough fluids to ensure proper hydration. In Ariel’s case, not a single one of those precautions was taken. Ariel, who weighed over 200 pounds, was wearing black nylon track pants, was inadequately hydrated, was unaccustomed to the climate and was operating on minimal sleep.

“Israelis are fit for the most part,” said Mrs. Newman. “They go into the army and are trained, but our yeshiva boys and seminary girls are not. They are used to studying long hours and riding on buses. Then they come to Israel and may not really be in great shape or accustomed to the desert heat and when they complain Israelis don’t always take them seriously.”

The Newmans’ primary goal is to heighten awareness for parents who send their sons or daughters off for a gap year.

“Typically when we send our kids off, we expect them to be safe and we expect the people in charge to take the necessary safety precautions,” said Mark Newman. “We were under the impression that Israel is the 51ststate; it just happens to be in the Middle East. If all you ever do is go as a tourist or send your kid to yeshiva or seminary, you are in the American bubble and just don’t know the truth of what really goes on in Israel.”

Since the release of “Ariel’s Checklist,” the Newmans have received tremendous positive feedback from a wide variety of people, including roshei yeshiva, government officials, friends and total strangers who have praised the document for both its content and its readability.

“There is a prevalent attitude in Israel that we have done it before and nothing has happened so it must be safe, but we know that that isn’t true,” said Mrs. Newman. “Not everyone who gets a heat illness dies. Ariel’s case was the extreme, but when you think about how he screamed out and was ignored, it becomes the most outrageous of the outrageous. It is vitally important for people to read “Ariel’s Checklist” and hold yeshivos and seminaries accountable for knowing this information and ensuring everyone’s safety.”

To find out more and to download the checklist, visit