Posted: September 12, 2016 Filed under: Dehydration, Heat Stroke, Player Safety
With fans packing stadiums for Saturday’s Auburn and Alabama football games, one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be hot.
With thousands of people in close quarters and many of them drinking, medical professionals want you to make good choices when it comes to your health.
“Any big event, whether it’s a concert, whether it’s a football game, whether it’s a race at Talladega, you put a lot of people trying to have fun in the heat and you have multiple people getting sick each time,” said Dr. Matthew Delaney with UAB’s emergency services.
He says that if you get too hot, you should pay attention to your body’s symptoms. Signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion include nausea, confusion, a change in sweat, and chest pains. If you experience those symptoms, try to cool off immediately. You may even want to take a break indoors.
However, Dr. Delaney says it’s better to avoid overheating before it happens. To do that, drink plenty of liquids, but cap your alcohol intake.
“The effects of alcohol are greater when it’s hot, so maybe drink a little less than you normally would,” he said.
You should also try to stay in the shade as much as possible, and avoid the direct sunshine.
“It’s great to be excited and it’s great to have fun, but we just want people to use common sense,” Dr. Delaney said.
Bivins, Britany. “Doctors Offer Tips to Avoid Overheating at Football Games as Summer Wanes.” Alabama News Weather Sports Traffic. WIAT, 09 Sept. 2016. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.
Posted: August 24, 2016 Filed under: Dehydration, Heat Stroke, Player Safety
The athletes playing football in this extreme heat, especially two-a-day practice sessions must think seriously about dehydration.
Coaches, captains and parents must encourage the player to increase fluids and be well hydrated by drinking before, during and again after practices.
The athlete who begins exercise with less than normal amount of body fluid runs the risk of adverse reactions to the cardiovascular system, body temperature regulation, and performance during the practice or game.
Athletes playing football can lose as much as 10 quarts of fluid during the sweat rate each day. Large losses of sodium and chloride occur when one sweats. These must be replaced during the practice sessions from day to day. The athletes should begin their strength training exercise conditioning before going out for preseason practices. This helps them to become acclimated to warm weather.
If one begins to exercise dehydrated, this will create the risk of heat illness and poor performance. The athlete should get into a habit of drinking at least 16 ounces of fluid in the evening, before retiring and another 16 ounces upon awaking to maintain fluid balance.
It is important to drink 16-32 ounces one hour before and another 16 ounces about 20 minutes before the training sessions start. One may get into a method of weighing oneself before and after exercise to make sure one has taken enough fluid to prevent dehydration.
At times, with heavy sweating, fluids that contain carbohydrate and small amounts of sodium chloride will be helpful in fluid and mineral replacement during the practices or competition.
If the athlete has the slightest sign of thirst, this is a warning sign of dehydration and possible heat illness. Drink at least 8 ounces every 15 minutes to replace fluid loss and 24- ounces for every l pound of body weight loss after exercise.
Weiss, Dr. Robert F. “The Running Doctor: Stay Hydrated during Preseason Practice.” Westport News. Westport News, 23 Aug. 2016. Web. 24 Aug. 2016.
Posted: August 23, 2016 Filed under: Dehydration, Heat Stroke, Player Safety, Youth Sports
In case you haven’t noticed — it is hot! With participation in outdoor fall sports beginning, schools and coaching staffs are taking extra precautions to keep their athletes safe from heat-related issues. In recent visits to both area high schools, coaches and staff members were following strict guidelines to help ensure the safety of their players.
According to the National Weather Service, heat is a leading weather-related issue in the United States that results in fatalities or illnesses. With heat advisories popping up throughout the state, it is important to monitor the heat index, a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored together with the actual air temperature. During extremely hot and humid weather, the body’s ability to cool itself is challenged, which can result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even a heat stroke.
Cortney Bowers, certified athletic trainer for Colleton County High School, is cranked up for football season – meaning she’s on-duty during practice to help ensure the players’ safety. According to Bowers, South Carolina does not have actual heat regulations, but most athletic trainers within the state use a work/rest/water and continuous work/water consumption guideline made available by Fort Jackson.
“The guidelines are a way for us to categorize the temperature-vs.-work ratio to gauge when we should stop practice due to temperatures,” explained Bowers. “Athletes often don’t realize the toll heat takes on their bodies until they are suffering from a heat-related condition. As temps hit the high notes, I hit the water bottles and get out the Kestrel,” said Bowers. “The Kestrel is a dry-bulb/wet-bulb globe thermometer which measures temperature, humidity and heat index. It will work standing in the middle of a football field.”
Bowers is also charged with helping keep the players hydrated during practice. “I try to keep every player as hydrated as possible throughout practice, with plenty of water on the practice field,” said Bowers. “I have 18-20 sets of water bottles, so each coach has two sets of their own in groups. I have two 20-gallon water boys that I use on opposite sides of the practice field. The linemen, who tend to be bigger, have 4-to-5 sets of bottles and a 20-gallon water boy to help keep them hydrated. Last year, we had a continuous feed water boy purchased for us, which enables me to put ice in the chest and plug it up to a water hose for a continuous flow. On standby, I have 7-8 ten-gallon coolers filled with just ice to replenish the smaller water boys as needed and keep a seven-gallon cooler with towels, ice, water and ice bags in it for emergency.”
The Cougars will go full gear on Wednesday, which means Bowers will be going a step further in her preparation. “Once we put pads on, I will have a tent on the sidelines,” said Bowers. “I’ll keep the water under the tent and have tubs set up for emergency cold soaks or just for the guys to take a nice dip after practice. I also have the whirlpool inside that is ready to go if needed.”
According to Bowers, part of staying safe in the dangerous heat begins before athletes step on the field. “I preach to these kids to drink lots and lots and lots of water,” she said. “Although some Gatorade is acceptable, nothing beats water. Gatorade, which is heavy in sugar, can actually cause cramping. So, I always tell players if they drink Gatorade, fill the empty bottle back up with water. It is also very important to eat in the mornings before practice — whether it’s eggs and bacon or a peanut butter sandwich, it gives them the necessary energy for practice and helps reduce overheating. Dressing in loose fitting, comfortable clothing or heat gear, is another component to staying cool.”
The State of South Carolina has mandated that all coaches take an annual test through the National Federation of State High Schools on heat illness prevention, concussions and sudden cardiac arrest. This precaution allows coaches to know the signs and symptoms and to both stay educated and help educate.
“With coaches and athletic trainers understanding what to watch for, it means more eyes to watch for signs and symptoms, which is better for our athletes,” said Bowers.
Crosby, Cindy. “Playing It Safe in the Heat!” Walterboro Live. Walterboro Live, 12 Aug. 2016. Web. 23 Aug. 2016.
Posted: August 22, 2016 Filed under: Heat Stroke, Player Safety, Youth Sports
The death of 14-year-old Lewis Simpkins has once again raised questions about whether we are doing enough to prevent sudden deaths in sports.
The sophomore defensive tackle at River Bluff High School stumbled through the end of a 2-hour, 15-minute football practice before collapsing in the locker room on Aug. 10. Coaches gave him CPR and used a defibrillator. Paramedics took him to Lexington Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Over a recent 20-year period, 243 deaths occurred during high school and college football practices and games. That’s about 12 per season. The most common causes were heart failure, brain injury and heat illness. The cause of Simpkins’ death has not yet been determined.
A recent article in The State newspaper pointed out that South Carolina high schools show poor compliance with guidelines to prevent sudden death. These guidelines come from the Korey Stringer Institute, a leader in research and education to improve safety and prevent sudden deaths for athletes and the military.
In the article, South Carolina High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton noted that he wasn’t familiar with the Institute or its guidelines. He did point out that coaches in this state must complete online courses regarding heat acclimatization and concussions. He also emphasized that the SCHSL reviews its medical policies annually.
Korey Stringer was an NFL offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings. He died from exertional heat stroke after an August practice in 2001. His wife Kelci partnered with heat stroke expert Dr. Douglas Casa at the University of Connecticut to create the Korey Stringer Institute. The NFL, Gatorade and other companies and organizations contribute to the Institute’s efforts.
One area of concern for football teams in the South is the heat, with 63 percent of deaths from heat stroke in football occurring in the South. Fortunately, these deaths are largely preventable. Unfortunately, South Carolina does a poor job complying with guidelines that can prevent these deaths.
While North Carolina and Georgia, as well as Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas, meet the minimum best practice guidelines for heat acclimatization, South Carolina only meets one of the seven KSI guidelines. These guidelines include limits to the number and length of practices in the first weeks of summer football and recommendations for gradually adding protective equipment.
South Carolina schools also meet none of the guidelines regarding the use of Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT). The WBGT requires a special device to measure the outside environment for heat stress. It’s likely that the cost of the device plays a factor in our poor compliance, but Georgia meets all nine of the best practice guidelines for WBGT.
South Carolina does somewhat better with access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and training in CPR and AED use — meeting five to six of the Korey Stringer Institute’s eight best practice guidelines.
In terms of plans for emergencies like the tragedy at River Bluff, South Carolina again needs work. Of the 11 guidelines issued by KSI regarding emergency action plans — schools coordinating with local EMS, athletic trainers and physicians on-site to develop plans should a medical emergency occur — South Carolina meets none of them.
The South Carolina High School League needs to adopt these heat acclimatization and emergency action plan guidelines. It should work with its high schools and the state legislature to arrange funding for WBGT and certified athletic trainers for each school.
Schools, though, don’t have to wait for a statewide mandate to take action. Concerned parents of high school athletes can talk to the athletic directors and coaches to discuss plans to treat and prevent deaths from cardiac arrest, heat stroke and brain injury.
This isn’t about pointing blame at the SCHSL or the high school athletic directors and coaches around the state. My goal is to raise awareness and encourage change.
As tragic as the sudden death of a high school athlete is, it creates a perfect time to take steps to prevent another one.
Geier, Dr. “High Schools Must Adopt Guidelines to Prevent Sudden Deaths of Athletes.” Post and Courier. Post and Courier, 19 Aug. 2016. Web. 22 Aug. 2016.
Posted: July 29, 2016 Filed under: Football, Heat Stroke, Player Safety
One day after a 12-year-old boy died from a heatstroke he suffered at football practice two weeks ago, Fulton County officials said they’re making changes to local athletic associations, according to Channel 2 Action News.
Johnny Tolbert was doing conditioning drills when he had a heatstroke July 14 in 90-degree weather in South Fulton County. Tolbert died Thursday night and will be buried next week, Channel 2 reported.
“Of course, his mom and dad are both devastated,” Tolbert’s aunt, Rozhange Landers, told the station. “It’s their only child (and) a terrible loss.”
The Fulton Parks and Recreation Department suspended all football practices in the wake of the incident, Channel 2 reported. The county has also ordered that local athletic associations prove its coaches are properly certified, including being trained on heat and hydration protocols and concussion prevention.
The county also said it will implement additional measures, Channel 2 reported.
While the measures could help save another young athlete’s life, Tolbert’s family is still trying to come to grips with his death.
“We’re totally depending on God’s grace and His peace to get us through this,” Landers told Channel 2. “We don’t know any other way.”
The family set up a GoFundMe account to assist with funeral costs. It had raised more than $6,300 as of Friday afternoon.
Habersham, Raisa. “12-year-old’s Heatstroke Death Prompts Football Changes.” AJC.com: Atlanta Georgia News, AJC Sports, Atlanta Weather. AJC, 29 July 2016. Web. 10 Aug. 2016.
Posted: July 28, 2016 Filed under: Dehydration, Heat Stroke, Youth Sports
Staying hydrated throughout the day is best for teen athletes.
Conditioning for fall sports, like football, cross country and even marching band, has started but research shows that heat-related deaths are behind most indirect deaths in high school sports. Parents need to make their athlete take it slow when starting outdoor workouts and be aware of the dangers.
Heat exhaustion happens when the body’s natural cooling system gets tired from working too hard. Symptoms include fatigue, profuse sweating, dizziness and decreased exercise performance.
“When an athlete notices these symptoms, it is time for a break to cool off,” says Dr. Lora Scott, medical director of sports medicine at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Sometimes ten minutes at the water cooler is enough. Other times, they may need shade or air-conditioning for several hours. They are at higher risk of getting sick again for 24 hours.”
Heat stroke happens when the body starts to shut down because it is too hot. If nothing is done, the person will die. An athlete with heat stroke may look like they have heat exhaustion, but they also start to have nervous system symptoms. These could be mild, like confusion or a short temper. They could be more serious, like seizures or loss of consciousness.
“Cooling within 30 minutes is the best predictor of life or death, in this situation,” says Dr. Scott. “Call 911 and do whatever it takes to cool them off fast.”
Heat stroke prevention day is July 31, one day before official practices for many sports begin. It’s a good time to review these tips.
Allow time to adapt. “Let kids start with easy outdoor training sessions to give the body time to adapt,” says Dr. Scott. “They may not be able to do their usual workouts when they move from the indoors to the outdoors. That is OK. Give it time.”
Stay hydrated. “Elite athletes can sweat up to four liters per hour!,” says Dr. Scott. “It is not practical to drink four liters in an hour, so practicing good hydration all day is important.” Drink until urine is colorless or very light yellow.
Listen to your body. If you feel overworked, it means your body is not ready for this level of exercise in this level of heat. You either need to cool off, or ease up on the exercise, or both. Take the time to condition safely.
Educate coaches. Make practice easier on the hottest days or move it indoors. Give the team unlimited access to water.
Take a collapsed athlete seriously. Make sure you are following the American College of SportsMedicine’s guidelines on length, intensity and frequency of practice.
Treat suspected heat stroke.
If an athlete acts strangely, think heat stroke. “Call 911 and cool them off immediately,” says Dr. Scott.
“Place them in a tub of ice water, pour water from a cooler over them, put ice packs on their neck, armpits and groin, use a garden hose if you have to. This is a life-or-death situation, and treatment is easily available and free.”
Dayton Children Hospital. “Preventing Heat Stroke in Young Athletes – Athletic Business.” Athletic Business. Athletic Business, 27 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2016.
Posted: July 7, 2016 Filed under: Dehydration, Heat Stroke
Hot temperatures and high humidity can put nearly anyone at risk for dehydration and heat stroke, but children are especially vulnerable.
A deadly phenomenon seen every summer is children being left in or becoming trapped in hot cars. These tragedies don’t just happen during heat waves. The temperature in a vehicle can quickly reach deadly levels on a 70 degree day, even with the windows cracked. Nationwide, 16 children have died in hot vehicles already this year, which is double the number from last year at this time.
“This is really concerning because it is a tragedy that is totally preventable and often the fault of the primary caregivers,” said Emmy Sasala, a health educator in the Pediatric Trauma and Injury Prevention Program at Penn State Children’s Hospital.
In some cases, exhausted new parents may have a change in routine that causes them to forget that their infant is in the back seat of their vehicle.
“It’s not something most people would ever think could happen to them,” she said. “Most people are aware that it’s never a good idea to leave a child in a car, but you can get so distracted or tired that your mind loses focus on your child.”
Sasala suggests putting a sticky note on the steering wheel or important items such as your purse or cell phone in the back seat as extra reminders to check back there before leaving your vehicle. She also encourages passersby to take a second glance in the window when they see a car seat in the back of a parked car to make sure it doesn’t still have a child in it.
“That’s a case where you don’t want to mind your own business,” she said. “Call 911 if you find an infant or young child that has been left alone in the car, and if they appear to be in distress, get them out.”
In other instances, children have gotten into an unlocked parked car while exploring or looking for a toy and then couldn’t get back out.
“Even if you don’t have children, there could be kids in the neighborhood who could wander into your car, so always lock your vehicle, even when it is in your driveway,” Sasala said. “And if you have toddlers and can’t find them, always check the pool first, then the car.”
Older children are most at risk of heat stroke when involved in organized outdoor activities on steamy summer days.
Although most elementary-aged children will stop playing and complain of thirst or tiredness when they become overheated, some older kids involved in organized activities may feel pushed by peers or coaches to continue.
A lot of attention has focused on football, a sport for which pre-season practices typically begin in August, one of the hottest months of the year. Pennsylvania’s state athletic association, the PIAA, now has a policy that athletes must complete an acclimatization period of three days when starting back for the season with limited gear and shorter practices.
“You want to get them used to exerting themselves in the warmer environment and gradually ease them back into it,” Sasala said. “Even if your child is just going to tennis camp for a week, you’ll want them to do some activity outdoors in the days leading up to it so their body can get used to it.”
Staying in the shade when possible, taking frequent breaks and staying hydrated with lots of water can all help prevent the lightheaded feeling, dizziness and muscle cramps that can be early signs of dehydration or heat stroke. Avoid sugary drinks, as water is often the best choice. If a young athlete engages in intense physical activity lasting more than an hour, sports drinks may be a better choice.
Kids who play outside can get so involved in what they’re doing that they may ignore their thirst or forget to take breaks. Parents can help by encouraging breaks for rest, shade and water every 15 minutes or so on hot days and by dressing the children in light-colored clothing so their body doesn’t heat up as fast.
Sasala recommends that parents make sure cold water is always available for their children, planning ahead for trips to outdoor events by bringing their own water bottles.
“Being prepared for the heat and taking steps to keep the body cool and comfortable will help everyone enjoy the summer weather safely,” she said.
“Pediatric Health Educator Provides Tips for Protecting Children from Heat Stroke.” News-Medical.net. News Medical, 07 July 2016. Web. 08 July 2016.
Posted: May 31, 2016 Filed under: Coaching, Concussions, Heat Stroke, Player Safety, Youth Sports
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The Brentwood Library is hosting a program on youth sports and staying healthy next week, with experienced health professionals leading the discussion.
Chuck Schumacher and Dr. Parnell Donahue will lead the talk, with a focus on exercise in hot weather, hydration and heat illness, concussions, positive benefits of exercise and fitness, parent’s roles in encouragement and coaching and nutrition, including alcohol and drug abuse.
Schumacher is an American karate and baseball instructor, whose longtime training in martial arts has resulted in an expert understanding of movements of the body and discipline of the mind. He has become known for his ability to work with young athletes to achieve skill and develop character.
The mainstay of Schumacher’s teaching and writing has been to educate parents and coaches to play their role correctly so kids can enjoy the process of skill development while learning life lessons. He is the author of ‘How to Play Baseball: A Parent’s Role in Their Child’s Journey.’
Donahue was named the 2014 Senior Pediatrician of the Year by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. His current books include a parenting teenagers book called ‘Messenger in Denim, The Amazing Things Parents Can Learn from Teens,’ and a general parenting book called ‘Tools for Effective Parenting.’ Other books include ‘Germs Make Me Sick’ and ‘Sports Doc.’
Their event will take place on Thursday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Brentwood Library, located at 8109 Concord Road. It will last for an hour and take place in Meeting Room B. Registration is required by clicking here.
Hearn, Samantha. “Library to Host Youth Sports Health Lecture next Week.” Brentwood Home Page. Brentwood Home Page, 31 May 2016. Web. 02 June 2016.
Posted: March 29, 2016 Filed under: Dehydration, Football, Heat Stroke, Youth Sports
A few key policy changes can reduce sudden deaths during middle school and high school sports activities, according to a best practices statement in the Journal of Athletic training.
More than 90 percent of sudden deaths in sport are due to sudden cardiac arrest, exertional heat stroke, head injuries and exertional sickling, the dangerous decrease in blood flow that can occur in athletes who carry the sickle cell trait, the authors write.
Evidence based safety policies like heat acclimatization, sickle cell trait testing, the “Heads Up Football” program and requiring that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) be available can reduce the risk of all four events.
“These efforts are really starting to pay off,” said Dr. Barry P. Boden, a sports medicine specialist at The Orthopaedic Center in Rockville, Maryland, who was not part of the new statement.
“A lot of them are really just education, not much more than that,” Boden told Reuters Health by phone. “It still takes some time and effort but there’s really no excuse.”
Heat acclimatization policies mandate that in the hottest months of the year, athletes only gradually return to sports practices and exertion. The Korey Stringer Institute recommends no more than one practice per day in the first five days and no more than three hours of practice per day, with athletes wearing only a helmet, if appropriate, and no other extra equipment on day one and two of practice. All protective equipment can be worn and full contact can begin on day six.
In the second week of practice, two-a-day sessions should alternate with one-a-day sessions. For two-a-day practices, the two sessions should be separated by at least three hours in a cool environment.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association implemented heat acclimatization guidelines like these in 2003, and since then heatstroke-related deaths have dropped from one or two deaths each August before the policy to only one August death since 2003.
The policy saved an estimated 20 lives among college football players, the authors write.
“Heat acclimatization costs absolutely no money,” said coauthor Douglas J. Casa, CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.
“Simple Steps Help Prevent Deaths during Youth Sports | Fox News.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
Posted: November 25, 2015 Filed under: Concussions, Dehydration, Football, Heat Stroke, Player Safety, Youth Sports | Tags: Concussions, player safety, Safety Tag, youth football, Youth Sports
By DR DAVID GEIER
Tyrell Cameron. Ben Hamm. Evan Murray. Kenney Bui. Rod Williams. Cam’ron Matthews. Andre Smith. Luke Schemm.
These are all young athletes who have died this season playing high school football.
Deaths in a sport can be classified as either direct or indirect fatalities. Direct fatalities are those that result from football itself, such as a player suffering a broken neck tackling an opponent. Indirect deaths result from exertion while playing. Examples include heat stroke and cardiac deaths.
From available media reports, it appears that most of the young athletes listed above died from events directly caused by football. They died from brain injuries, cervical spine injuries or a lacerated spleen.
If these reports are accurate, then at least six of the deaths this fall are directly related to high school football. Add these to the eight deaths in 2013 and five in 2014, and this three-year period marks the highest total since 1986-1988, according to Jason Lisk of The Big Lead.
Whether or not this recent spike in fatalities is part of a trend or just an aberration remains to be seen.
Dr. Frederick Mueller, the former director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, explained to me that in the 1960s and early 1970s, 25 to 30 athletes died each year as a result of head and neck injuries. In 1976, football banned spear tackling, which involved leading with the head or helmet. That change helped to dramatically cut fatalities in the sport.
According to data from the NCCSIR, 26 high school football players suffered deaths directly related to the sport between 2003 and 2012, or about three per year. Nineteen direct fatalities have occurred from 2013 through the end of the 2015 season, which appears to be a significant increase. It’s possible, however, that increased media coverage and the proliferation of social media has helped to publicize deaths we might never have heard about in the past.
While it’s hard to conclude that deaths in high school football are becoming more common, it is clear that we aren’t making much headway in preventing them either.
Part of the problem could be the evolution of the sport at the high school level and the athletes who play it. Kids start playing competitively at a much younger age, so the high school game is played at a higher level than ever. Plus the athletes are bigger, faster and stronger and deliver hits with more force than they did decades ago.
More worrisome, though, are the deaths indirectly related to football. There were 62 indirect fatalities between 2008 and 2014, according to NCCSIR data. Most deaths from heat stroke, sickling in athletes with sickle cell trait and heart issues can be prevented with rapid and appropriate medical response in the first few minutes. Yet these deaths seem to be rising.
I don’t present these statistics to scare anyone. The simple fact is that kids die playing football.
You might look at that number — six deaths directly caused by football this year — and think that it isn’t many when 1.1 million kids play high school football. Or you might be a parent who decides it is far too high.
We need more research on high school football deaths and new strategies to prevent them. Would creating more protective helmets make a difference? Would teaching proper tackling techniques help? Yes, we need those efforts and much, much more. But the last 40 years have shown us that we aren’t making much progress.
Football is more popular than ever, and kids want to play. Parents will have to decide if six deaths a year is an acceptable risk for their children.
Dr. David Geier is an orthopaedic surgeon in Charleston. For more information about football injuries and other sports medicine topics, go to drdavidgeier.com.
Source: Geier, David. “Are Deaths Increasing in High School Football?” Post and Courier. N.p., 25 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.