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First-of-its-kind medical symposium features personal testimony from former Minnesota Vikings players

More than 20 retired players will visit the University of Minnesota Health Signature Health and Wellness Clinic on Sept. 17 for comprehensive screenings sponsored by National Football League Players Association.
As they age, former professional athletes and others who participated in high-caliber athletics may experience sports-related health complications. To help address those needs, University of Minnesota Health Signature Health and Wellness—working in collaboration with the Living Heart Foundation—will present a first-of-its-kind “Managing the Health Challenges of Athletes” symposium on Sept. 17.
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University of Minnesota Health Signature Health and Wellness—working in collaboration with the Living Heart Foundation—will present a first-of-its-kind “Managing the Health Challenges of Athletes” symposium at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will inform care providers, athletic management and athletes about:

  • Conditions that typically affect former professional and high-caliber amateur athletes, as well as the latest treatments for such ailments
  • The latest research about sports-related injuries, such as concussions, post-career obesity and diabetes, as well as implications of these findings

Learn more about the Managing the Health Challenges of Athletes event, or register to attend.

During the symposium, the “Purple People Eaters”—members of the renowned Minnesota Vikings defensive linemen of the 1960s and 70s—will share their first-hand health experiences. More than 20 retired NFL players will also visit University of Minnesota Health Signature Health and Wellness for comprehensive physicals, electrocardiograms and lab tests the same day. These first visits are the first under a new care model developed by the Living Heart Foundation, which is sponsored by the National Football League Players Association.

The screenings are designed to help former players – like Purple People Eater Gary Larsen and punter Greg Coleman – detect and treat the unintended health concerns that come with life after professional football.

“Wear and tear from high-caliber sports, be it football or otherwise, tend to appear as athletes age,” said William Conroy, MD, medical director for the Signature Health and Wellness program. “Our program is a tailored, comprehensive care option to help busy people achieve and maintain good health, which is something the NFLPA wants for its members.”

The Living Heart Foundation, under the auspices of the National Football League Players Association, refers retired players to specialized care around the nation. It also develops education and wellness programming to raise awareness about conditions that often affect older athletes, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. When left untreated, these conditions contribute to the shorter life expectancies of retired players.

Signature Health and Wellness, located in the University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center, is the first designated brick-and-mortar provider to treat retired players referred by the NFLPA-funded Living Heart Foundation. The program will apply genomic testing to personalize treatment for patients, as well as partner with Pro Player Health Alliance to treat sleep apnea and related disorders with oral appliance therapy when medically indicated.

Learn more about the University of Minnesota Health Signature Health and Wellness program.

In addition to the screenings, Signature Health and Wellness and the Living Heart Foundation will host a panel discussion that afternoon addressing post-career nutrition, concussions and orthopaedic health. This symposium has been organized by Henry Buchwald, MD, Professor of Surgery at the University of Minnesota, the author of the Living Heart Foundation’s Heart Obesity Prevention Education (HOPE) program. Special guests at this symposium will be the four Minnesota Vikings Purple People Eaters and Maureen Bausch, CEO of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.

Space at the symposium is limited and RSVP is required. Make your reservation online now or by calling the Fairview Health Services event hotline at 612-672-7272. Complimentary valet parking will be available during the event.

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