Nav: Home

Why this IndyCar driver is outpacing diabetes

May 25, 2017

EAST LANSING, Mich. - New Michigan State University research is the first to help a professional race car driver with diabetes improve his performance during competition, helping him capture two top-5 finishes at the Indianapolis 500.

The study focused on 31-year-old race car driver Charlie Kimball, but the implications could extend well beyond racing and help other elite-level athletes with the disease compete.

"Our research focused on tracking all the health variables of Charlie related to his diabetes in order to help him become a more powerful athlete," said David Ferguson, lead author of the study who has worked with Kimball for the past six years.

"Even though our study was tailored for racing, the idea of optimal blood sugar could really extend to any athlete with diabetes and help lay the foundation for all diabetics to engage in competitive sports based on our data."

Kimball, one of two IndyCar drivers with Type 1 diabetes and one of four in elite-level racing overall, has to consider a lot more safety precautions than most other drivers when he gets behind the wheel.

"Monitoring blood sugar is one of the most obvious precautions someone like Charlie needs to consistently keep track of before getting on the racetrack," Ferguson said. "If his blood sugar is too low, it may take him too long to make the right decision. If his sugar is too high, his reaction time may be fine, but the likelihood of him making the wrong choice increases."

Ferguson's research-based regimen has Kimball's physical composition and health fluctuations down to a science, indicating optimum glucose levels for the professional driver at race time, as well as knowing how his body will respond to extreme forces and movements that occur while in the car.

In addition to identifying blood sugar levels, the study monitored other physiological factors including body composition, strength, cardiovascular fitness and how much G-force his body could handle.

"Drivers are subjected to an increased gravitational force while racing," Ferguson said. "Blood can pool in the legs on a high G-force track and impair performance."

By helping Kimball manage his health and monitor many of the environmental factors he faces while racing, Ferguson said the research has put Charlie in the top 10 percent of physical fitness of the athletes he has tested. It's also given him the ability to compete equally with others.

"Technically, since Charlie doesn't have a functioning pancreas, all the other drivers have had an advantage over him," Ferguson said. "We simply put him on a level playing field."

Ferguson is presenting the study at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine on May 31.
-end-
Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

Michigan State University

Related Diabetes Articles:

The role of vitamin A in diabetes
There has been no known link between diabetes and vitamin A -- until now.
Can continuous glucose monitoring improve diabetes control in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin
Two studies in the Jan. 24/31 issue of JAMA find that use of a sensor implanted under the skin that continuously monitors glucose levels resulted in improved levels in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin multiple times a day, compared to conventional treatment.
Complications of type 2 diabetes affect quality of life, care can lead to diabetes burnout
T2D Lifestyle, a national survey by Health Union of more than 400 individuals experiencing type 2 diabetes (T2D), reveals that patients not only struggle with commonly understood complications, but also numerous lesser known ones that people do not associate with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
A better way to predict diabetes
An international team of researchers has discovered a simple, accurate new way to predict which women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes after delivery.
More Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...