ECU professor Sam Sears to appear on PBS program

Nov. 24, 2015

By Spaine Stephens
For ECU News Services

An episode of PBS’s cutting-edge health program “Second Opinion” will release on Thursday an episode that features an East Carolina University psychology professor.
ECU professor Sam Sears will speak on the PBS program 'Second Opinion' regarding the psychological effects of implantable devices for heart patients. (Photo by Jay Clark)

Sam Sears, director of ECU’s doctoral program in health psychology, appears in the episode “Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young Athletes.” Sears, an expert on implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)—devices that deliver a life-saving shock when a heart arrhythmia is detected—will speak to one young athlete’s case.

On the episode, star basketball player Mike Papale shares his story of survival after an incident of cardiac arrest. Mike and his Mom, Joan, talk about living through the aftermath of sudden cardiac arrest and living with an ICD.

Sears explains the process of adjustment for patients as they learn to live with ICDs and the possibility of a life-saving shock, and highlight how Papale is maintaining his own quality of life with an ICD by coaching basketball even while he can no longer compete on the court.

“Living with an ICD is about becoming a survivor and not a victim,” Sears said. “While an ICD is there to prevent premature death, the patient has to learn how to trust that device and re-engage in life to trump fear.”

Sears is the 2013 winner of the O. Max Gardner Award, the top faculty award from the the UNC system Board of Governors for contributions to mankind. He appears regularly on “Second Opinion” on episodes covering a variety of health topics. He is the foremost author and expert on ICDs and patient quality of life.

“Dr. Sears has been a contributing doctor with the series for six out of 12 seasons,” said Karen Heller, producer of “Second Opinion.” “Dr. Sear’s insight on the quality of life of cardiac and ICD patients has been imperative to the content of the six shows he has appeared on.”

Second Opinion” is WXXI’s fast-paced and provocative healthcare series focuses on “health literacy in an engaging, entertaining and accessible way. A patient story provides the backbone of each episode as full-time medical practitioner Dr. Peter Salgo leads a panel of medical specialists through the twists and turns of one patient's real-life medical mystery.

The series is distributed by American Public Television. Major funding for Second Opinion is provided by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), which has sponsored the series since 2004.

View the episode at http://secondopinion-tv.org/episode/sudden-cardiac-arrest-young-athletes.