TASD athletes participating in asthma awareness program

Student athletes at the Tyrone Area High School and Middle School have an opportunity to participate in an asthma awareness program as part of their sports physical this school year.
The asthma awareness program is available to Tyrone athletes thanks to a State Rural Health Plan Implementation Grant in the amount of $10,000 received by Tyrone Hospital from the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility/Critical Access Hospital Program through the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health.
Tyrone Hospital applied for grant funds to conduct the asthma awareness program in cooperation with the Blair County Respiratory Disease Society, the Blair County Healthy Community Partnership and the Tyrone Area School District.
\”In order to best serve our children and communities there needs to be coordination between federal, state and local officials, especially in the small towns of America,\” said Congressman Bill Shuster, a member of the Rural Health Care Coalition in Congress. \”By working together we can all better meet the health care needs of people in the region and, by doing so, provide better services to the entire area. This project is a great example of local, state and federal cooperation.\”
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs and airways that can be life threatening if it is not controlled. Statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Health Statistics shows that the number of Blair County school students with asthma has increased over the last several years. In addition, a county wide survey conducted by the Blair County Healthy Community Partnership identified breathing problems among children as a health concern.
Walter S. Van Dyke, CEO at Tyrone Hospital said this project is an opportunity to work cooperatively with others to address an identified health issue.
\”We are pleased that our local students have access to the asthma program. Health issues addressed at a young age, can have great impact. It can positively affect a child\’s health later in life.\”
\”The grant funds we received allowed us to bring this program to Tyrone. We appreciate Congressman Shuster\’s support for this and other funding for rural healthcare and the support we receive from the office of Rural Health,\” said Van Dyke.
The asthma awareness program was developed by the Blair County Respiratory Disease Society. Betsy Hurst, Executive Director said the program has been offered at various schools in Blair County over the past three years. \”We are happy to partner with the hospital, school and doctors for this valuable program.\”
George M. Zlupko, M.D., FCCP, a lung specialist who is the Director of the Respiratory Care Department at the Altoona Regional Health System, conducts the asthma awareness program along with the Blair County Respiratory Disease Society. Dr. Zlupko said approximately six percent of the general population has asthma but in athletes the incidence is three to four times higher. That, and the fact that stress, including exercise, can trigger an asthma attack, makes asthma detection in the athlete an important issue that is being recognized at all sporting levels including college and professional ranks.
\”It is important to identify young athletes with asthma or the risk of asthma. Early detection and treatment will help the athlete train more effectively, perform at a more optimal level and will allow coaches and trainers to work with the young athlete safely. Parents, coaches, trainers and the athletes themselves should consider this an important issue,\” Doctor Zlupko said.
The asthma awareness program includes education for coaches, athletic trainers and school nurses. Students who participate in the program complete a questionnaire to help identify those who may be exhibiting symptoms. To check lung function, peak flow readings are obtained for each student. Students who are identified as at risk will also receive a spirometry test and follow-up with a physician is recommended.
For more information about the asthma awareness program, contact the Blair County Respiratory Disease Society at 944-8222 or at
This project is funded, in part, under a contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Department specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations or conclusions.