Trident Helps Athletes Beat the Heat
Since 1995, 39 football players have died in the United States from heat stroke – 29 of those were high school students, according to the Annual Survey of Football Injury Research.
“Being located in the Southeast, the high humidity and temperatures put our athletes at risk for heat-related problems,” said Dr. Gary Windler, a sports medicine physician with Trident Health. “Each year we all read about an athlete who dies from heat stroke. Rather than become a statistic and then react, we decided as a community to move forward with measures to try to reduce that risk.”
In early 2009, Trident Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation formed an Exertional Heat Illness Task Force to take a close look at the issue of heat-related conditions with emphasis on prevention. The task force consisted of a working group of physicians, coaches, EMS, school administrators, certified athletic trainers and athletic directors. Trident Sports Medicine works throughout the Lowcountry providing services to Berkeley County and Dorchester County 2 school districts as well as Charleston Southern University.
The task force ultimately produced a consensus on recommendations for preventing and treating heat-related conditions. Key to their recommendations was education aimed at athletes, parents, athletic trainers, coaches and EMS.
One key to prevention is identifying athletes who may be at increased risk for heat illness. Athletes who are taking certain medications, are overweight or carrying a lot of body fat or have a previous history of problems while exercising in the heat should be monitored for signs of heat illness.
Once an athlete is suspected of having heat illness, immediate treatment is necessary, and in the case of heat stroke, can save the athlete from organ damage or death. Rather than being taken to the hospital for treatment, the task force recommended on-site treatment that includes immediate immersion in an ice water bath for any athlete suspected of suffering from heat stroke. Ice bath immersion is the most effective way to lower core body temperature.
Trident Sports Medicine provided 100-gallon tanks on the sidelines of the practice field so that an ice bath is immediately available if needed.
Tips for Beating the Heat
- If you’re planning outdoor activity, get well hydrated by drinking 8 ounces of water every 30 minutes for at least two hours before stepping out the door.
- Replace the lost fluids. Particularly people who exercise outdoors regularly should weigh themselves before and after exercising and replace lost fluids. In addition to replacing lost fluids, drink an additional 16 ounces of water.
- While exercising, it’s also a good idea to replace electrolytes that are lost in sweat by adding a sports drink with potassium, sodium and calcium.
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing while exercising.
- Avoid exercising in the afternoon and early evening – the hottest part of the day.
- Give your body a chance to acclimate to the outdoor conditions. Go out and exercise a half hour at a time to build up endurance to the warm weather.
Source: Dr. Joe Calandra, sports medicine physician with Trident Health
Signs of Possible Heat Stroke
- Mental status changes – confused, disoriented, difficulty concentrating, combative, convulsions, diminished level of consciousness.
- A core body temperature of 104 degrees or higher. One or both of these signs can be present in someone who is suffering from heat stroke.
Source: Dr. Gary Windler, sports medicine physician with Trident Health