Mind Over Sports

Sickle Cell Anemia

Posted on: March 12, 2008

Half-way during the 1988 basketball season, I became involved with the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) basketball team. The team had mostly African-American players on it and I made the decision to implement a program I called “Excelling for a High Order,” which involved having the team interact with a group of young people with some type of life-threatening illness. By doing so, it enhanced the players self-esteem and thereby positively affected their performance. The group I selected was the Sickle Cell Anemia Chapter in Kansas City, which was run by a very talented and very devoted woman named Kasey Moore. Kasey educated me about Sickle Cell and soon after I recommended a program to her which she subsequently submitted to the national Sickle Cell headquarters and my understanding is that portions of it are still being used.

Here is what I found out about Sickle Cell anemia and what I recommended: As is generally known, Sickle Cell is a disease affecting primarily Africans and the African-American community, but it also affects individuals who come from the Mediterranean area — such as Sicilians. I won’t get into the differences between carriers of sickle cell and actual sickle cell patients, other than to say that people who have sickle cell have genes shaped like “sickles,” which, when their blood pressure increases, the cells coagulate in the blood stream forming a beaver-dam effect blocking off blood vessels and creating for the patients what is generally referred to as a “pain attack.” And so, when I set about to develop a Sickle Cell program, I made the decision to create audio recordings that would achieve two goals: First, to relax the individual’s body and mind through the use of soft, relaxing music, thereby reducing the level of pressure and thus reducing pain; and second, to transform (through guided imagery) the sickle-shaped cells into full, healthy, round cells. I should point out that it wasn’t necessary for the cells to actually become transformed, but only that the patient believed that they were being transformed in his or her body thereby producing relief. It’s somewhat like the “placebo effect.” The program worked and soon after some of the young people who used my recordings found that they could substitute the recordings for morphine shots, which they dreaded taking. If you would like more information, I invited you to contact Kasey Moore at: Sickle Cell Disease Association of America: Kansas City Chapter, 1734 East 63rd Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64110, 816-444-5600.

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