Posts Tagged ‘sports medicine’

Emory Tennis Medicine Program: Patient Story

jayanthi patient story 2It was Labor Day weekend of 2015 , and  I was in Tennessee playing  in a tennis tournament. While playing, I suddenly could not bend over very well. I could hardly walk, twist or turn. I didn’t know it at the time but I had 3 stress fractures in my back potentially from how quickly I had grown  in a year and a half. At that time I was playing about 18 hours a week on average, and in the summer I played a little more. My back had been hurting off and on for about a year, but I was going to physical therapy once a week throughout that time which seemed to be helping.  Previously I experienced tightness in my back but the tightness would come and go.  It would hurt for a few days and after physical therapy would feel better.  However, I was always nervous because I never knew when it would come back.  I had heard of other tennis players with back issues but I didn’t think mine was as serious. During that match on Labor Day weekend, my parents pulled me off after the first set and I defaulted  the tournament. Oddly enough the next day I felt fine.  I could do everything and my flexibility came back.  I even went to tennis practice.

That  random alteration in my performance is what led my mother to setting up an appointment. In October I had an x-ray taken of my back and was told that there was an area of concern in my lower spine, so I was sent for and MRI to get a better image.  The results came back soon after and  I was told that I had stress fractures in my back.  My parents picked me up from practice as soon as they got the news and I had to stop all activity immediately. I was shocked. It didn’t seem like It could be possible because I had been feeling fine, but my back was broken!

My parents started doing research trying to find a doctor with specific experience in helping tennis players with injuries like mine,  and they learned about Neeru Jayanthi, MD at the Emory Sports Medicine Center.  My mother called and asked for Dr. Jayanthi and scheduled an appointment since he was tennis specific. The process was amazing.  We were excited and blown away by the response time.  An appointment was scheduled within a few days!

During the office visit, Dr. Jayanthi mapped out a plan. As part of the Emory Sports Medicine Tennis program, I was taken to a fitness center to see if there were any flaws in my strokes that may have caused the fractures.

This was the first specialized doctor that I had seen who did an on court evaluation with me, and he gave me confidence that I would be able to return to playing. The one-on-one hands-on evaluation and interaction was great, and it was very helpful to have a step by step plan for returning to the court.

In January of 2016, I went back for another appointment and was evaluated again. This time Dr. Jayanthi let me hit full court, serve and run around. It was fun to play again after being out for so long, and I felt like I was finally getting closer to being back. Before the end of my appointment, Dr. Jayanthi gave me a plan to gradually build up a few hours each week and specific drills to work on.  Now, I’m currently playing about 10 hours a week.

I am more capable of and doing more now than I ever imagined compared to what I was able to do when I first got the shocking news.  I have  increased my flexibility, core strength and upper body strength. I don’t rely on my back as much as I did before  and I have a much greater sense of freedom when it comes to being on the court, knowing that I will not get hurt again.

It’s been a tough experience but I feel much stronger in many ways because of it. I recommend any athlete struggling with back pain to have it looked at quickly. I waited a while thinking that it was just muscle soreness and growing pains when in fact I had fractures in my back.

A note from Dr. Jayanthi

On court evaluations are performed by Dr. Jayanthi (who is also USPTA-certified teaching professional) most commonly on junior/elite level tennis players who are looking to optimally return to competitive tennis while reducing their future risk of injury to identify any opportunities for modifying strokes to accommodate for an injury.

This is typically done on the tennis court, after a medical evaluation to identify the specific medical deficits, and then coupled with a research survey, video analysis and then progressions to help modify strokes and then return to tennis effectively.  If there are any notable deficits or any more significant changes to strokes, these are often communicated to the teaching professional/coach.  We follow these players at 6 months and at 1 year to assess their injury and performance status.

About Dr. Jayanthi

jayanthi-neeru-aNeeru Jayanthi, MD, is considered one of the country’s leading experts in youth sports health, injuries and sports training patterns, as well as an international leader in tennis medicine. He is currently the President of the International Society for Tennis Medicine and Science (STMS) and a certified USPTA tennis teaching professional. He previously was the medical director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University Chicago prior to being recruited to Emory, where he will lead an innovative tennis medicine program.

Dr. Jayanthi’s practice is open to all children and adults with non-surgical issues related to activity and sports. He particularly loves working with young athletes of all sports, and

The Importance of High School Sports Physicals

sports-physical250x250After months of being dormant during the winter, most children who participate in sports are anxious to get back in the game as soon as warm weather arrives. While increased exercise and participation in sports outweigh the risk of injury or illness, it is crucial that every child undergo pre – participation sports physicals before beginning practice with their chosen sport. The same goes for professional athletes around the world. In the United States, pre – participation exams (PPE) are required for professional and student-athletes of all ages who want to participate in sports and/or sports camps.

But whether you’re a student athlete or a professional athlete, pre-participation sports physicals are identical.

In the winter or “off-season”, the players are usually coaching, working or playing overseas. When they re-join the Atlanta Dream, they have to undergo sports physicals, each and every year. It is important to get physicals because your health status is capable of changing during the year/off-season. For student athletes and professional athletes, it is important for medical staff to re-assess if there are any health and or orthopedic issues that have occurred in the interim.

But are sports physicals really necessary for both junior level and pro? Absolutely! A PPE provides the following prior to participation:

  • Identifies any potential life-threatening conditions, such as risk of sudden cardiac death.
  • Evaluates existing conditions that may need treatment prior to participation, or monitoring to avoid future injury.
  • Identifies any orthopedic conditions that may require physical therapy or other treatment.
  • Identifies athletes who may be at higher risk for violence, substance abuse, STDs, depression, eating disorders, anemia, asthma, hypertension, etc.
  • Reviews concussion history (if previously concussed, the PPE determines if the student-athlete is still experiencing post-concussion symptoms).

There are two portions of the physical:

  • Review of medical history: Professional athletes or student athletes and their parents need to come prepared to openly and honestly discuss all medical history. Knowing the complete history helps doctors identify conditions that might affect the student’s ability to participate and/or perform in their sport or activity. This is not a time to try and hide past injuries or medical conditions.
  • Physical exam: many schools perform partial physical exams, but if you would like a more complete physical exam, visit your family’s personal physician or pediatrician. He or she may refer your child to a Sports Medicine specialist if he thinks the child needs further evaluation for orthopedic concerns or if the student has had a history of concussions.

In addition to the two portions of a physical for student athletes, professional athletes have an additional step in the process. Professional athletes are evaluated by the team athletic trainer first. A baseline neuropsych test is done, in order to know where they should report to should one have a concussion during the season while on the court. Cardiac testing and a physical exam is done by the team physician who will go over orthopedic and medical concerns as needed. Additional testing like lab work is also required to check for any abnormalities in each player.

Sports physicals usually occur six weeks prior to the start of sports or training camp. Most student-athletes and professionals are cleared for full participation following a sports physical exam, but those who require follow-up care are generally cleared from all potential complications within the six week timeframe. Parents of student athletes are encouraged to check with their child’s school about sports physicals and if it is being provided to the athletes.

About Emory Sports Medicine Center

At the Emory Sports Medicine Center, our experts specialize in advanced procedures to treat and repair a wide range of sports related injuries. Recently recognized as one of the nation’s TOP 50 orthopaedics programs, Emory Orthopaedics, Sports and Spine has 6 convenient locations across metro Atlanta, as well as 6 physical therapy locations. To make an appointment to see one of our Emory sports medicine specialists, please call 404-778-3350 or complete our online appointment request form.

About Dr. Mines

mines-brandonDr. Brandon Mines is board certified in both family practice and sports medicine. He has focused his clinical interest on sports injuries and conditions of the shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, knee, foot and ankle. He is head team physician for the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Atlanta Dream, Decatur High School and a team physician for NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. He is also a rotational physician for United States soccer teams.

Dr. Mines enjoys giving talks and lectures regarding the prevention of sports injuries. In fact, as an active member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American Society for Sports Medicine, Dr. Mines has attended and presented at various national conferences. Through the years, he has helped all levels of athletes return to the top of their game.

Hand, Wrist & Elbow Live Chat on April 26, 2016

hand-wrist-elbow-emailWhether for work or play, we use our hands, wrists & elbows during almost every activity throughout the day. Overuse can sometimes lead to the development of painful conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. When upper extremity pain begins to interfere with your daily activities, it is time to see a hand specialist.

Join Emory orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Gottschalk, on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 12 pm EST, for a live web chat. Dr. Gottschalk will be available to answer your questions about the diagnosis and treatment – both surgical and non surgical – for a wide range of hand and upper extremity issues. Register for this live chat here.

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Keys to Preventing Soccer Injuries

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Dr. Oludade recently returned from a trip to Turkey, where he provided medical care for the United State’s U-17 Men’s National Soccer Team during the 2016 Mercedes Benz Aegean Cup. Dr. Olufade with head coach, John Hackworth.

Already the most popular international team sport, soccer is also the fastest growing team sport in the United States. With more people playing soccer, it is not surprising that the number of soccer-related injuries is increasing. Although soccer provides an enjoyable form of aerobic exercise and helps develop balance, agility, coordination, and a sense of teamwork, soccer players must be aware of the risks for injury. Injury prevention, early detection, and treatment can keep kids and adults on the field long-term.

The most common injuries in soccer that impact healing time are ankle/knee ligament injuries and muscle strains to the hamstrings and groin. These injuries may be traumatic, such as a kick to the leg or a twist to the knee, or result from overuse of muscles of tendons. Cartilage tears and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains in the knee are some of the more serious injuries that may require surgery.

Proper preparation is essential for preventing injuries from playing soccer.  Here are some tips:

  • Warm up and stretch. Always take time to warm up and stretch. In order to increase your flexibility and decrease the likelihood of injury, there are number of stretching methods you can use:
    • Dynamic soccer stretching – Often used at the beginning of a warm up. Making circles with the arms to loosen the shoulders, twisting from side to side and swing each leg as if kicking a ball are examples of dynamic stretching.
    • Static soccer stretching – Muscles are stretched without moving the limb or joint itself. A good example of a static stretch is the traditional quad stretch – standing on one leg, you grab your ankle and pull your heel into your backside.
  • Maintain fitness. Be sure you are in good physical condition at the start of soccer season. During the off-season, stick to a balanced fitness program that incorporates aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility.
  • Hydrate. It’s important to make sure you get the right amount of water before, during, and after exercise. Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. If you have not had enough fluids, your body will not be able to effectively cool itself through sweat and evaporation. You may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness and more serious symptoms, all of which can increase the likelihood of injury.
  • Ensure Proper Equipment. Wear shin guards to help protect your lower legs, as leg injuries are often caused by inadequate shin guards. You should wear the proper cleats depending on conditions, such as wearing screw in cleats on a wet field with high grass.
  • Prevent Overuse. Limit your amount of playing time. Adolescents should not play just one sport year round — taking regular breaks and playing other sports is essential to skill development and injury prevention.
  • Cool down and stretch. Stretching at the end of practice is too often neglected because of busy schedules. Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and keep muscles long and flexible. Be sure to stretch after each training practice to reduce your risk for injury.

At Emory Sports Medicine Center, our team of specialists is constantly conducting research and developing new techniques for diagnosing and treating the full range of sports-related injuries. Whether you are a professional athlete, or simply enjoy an active lifestyle, Emory provides comprehensive care, in a patient–family- centered environment, so together we achieve the best possible outcome and you can return to the sport you love. To schedule an appointment, call 404-778-3350 or complete our online appointment request form.

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About Dr. Olufade

olufade-oluseunOluseun Olufade, MD, is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports related injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in concussion, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration.

Dr. Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

Takeaways from the Sports Cardiology: Heart Health & Being Active Live Chat

sports-cardio-emailThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, January 26, for our live online chat on “Sports Cardiology: Heart Healthy & Being Active” hosted by Emory sports cardiologist, Jonathan H. Kim, MD, and sports medicine physician, Neeru Jayanthi, MD.

We were thrilled with the number of people who registered and were able to participate in the chat. The response was so great that we had a few questions we were not able to answer so we have answered them below for your reference.

Question: How much exercise is safe if I have been diagnosed with a heart condition?

  • Answer from Dr. Kim: Discussing the appropriate “exercise prescription” for patients with heart conditions is one of the key elements of sports cardiology. Each “prescription” is patient specific and accounts for key elements in the patient’s history, cardiac condition, and results of cardiac testing. It is important to emphasize that, one, cardiac testing obtained is unique to each patient and their condition. Most testing will include, however, an EKG, imaging of the heart (echocardiogram), and functional exercise testing. Two, the “prescription” also takes into account the sports cardiologist and patient’s discussion weighing the risks vs. benefits of ongoing exercise and other key personal psychological aspects individual to each athletic patient. Thus, this is a very individualized discussion per athlete and per condition.

Question: Are energy drinks before you workout bad for your heart?

  • Answer from Dr. Kim: In general, high-energy drinks with caffeine carry the potential side effects related to caffeine. Many of these side effects are cardiovascular in nature (blood pressure and heart rhythm effects). In my practice, I generally discourage long-term use/ingestion of these high-energy beverages with caffeine if possible.

One of the questions from the live chat was too good not to share. See below:

Question: My 10 year old son wants to start playing football, but I’m concerned about the stories I see on the news about kids dropping dead on the field. His father’s family has a long history of heart disease. Does he need a heart screening before I let him play? Can his pediatrician screen him or should I bring him to a cardiologist/sports cardiologist?

  • Answer from Dr. Jayanthi: While it is devastating to hear these stories of sudden cardiac death during sports in children, fortunately these are exceedingly rare. It is very important to have an established relationship with your pediatrician or family physician to identify any risk factors prior to sports participation. If there are few risk factors and the appropriate heart screening questions and physical exam are done, there may not be any further need for evaluation.

However, if there are certain conditions in the family history, they may require referral to sports cardiology, such as sudden cardiac death and other conditions. We still do not have universal recommendations about getting EKG or echocardiograms prior to participation.

  • Answer from Dr. Kim: I agree with Dr. Jayanthi’s comments. In addition, it is critical to emphasize that many of the heart conditions that cause sudden cardiac death evolve unpredictably as we age. Therefore screening with heart tests in a 10 year old may not demonstrate evidence of a heart problem; however, that same 10 year old may actually have the genes for one of these heart diseases that cause sudden cardiac death. Therefore, as mentioned, the most important thing is to simply review family history questions, do an appropriate physical exam, and make sure there are no concerning clinical symptoms present in a young athlete screened prior to sports competition. The guidelines definitely recommend that any young athlete, regardless of age, should be screened by a physician with a detailed history and physical, only.

If you missed out on this live chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the chat transcript. You can also visit Emory Sports Cardiology and Emory Sports Medicine Center for more information.

Also, if you have additional questions for Dr. Kim or Dr. Jayanthi, please feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

Introducing Emory’s New Tennis Medicine Program

tennis-250x250Tennis is a great exercise. It improves aerobic fitness, lowers body fat, improves cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and improves bone health. And while tennis can be both healthy and fun, there is an inherent injury risk for those who play tennis, particularly for those who specialize in the sport. Given the impact of potential injuries specific to the sport, having a physician and community that understand the sport and its risks are vital.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve implemented a one-of-a-kind Tennis Medicine program offered by the Emory Sports Medicine Center which promotes health through tennis and provides specialized treatment for a wide range of tennis-related injuries. Our goal is to get patients back on the court as soon as possible, and teach them the techniques that will reduce their risk of further injuries and maintain their performance.

What Sets Us Apart?

Treating physicians, who are not able to incorporate more comprehensive evaluations, may be limited to standard medical treatments for tennis players. Our unique program will address tennis players’ needs by evaluating and treating injuries with a tennis-specific approach, including any needed rehabilitation, training modifications, injection procedures or surgery. We’ve also built three extraordinary components into our program:

  • On-court tennis evaluations
  • Ongoing communication with the tennis teaching professional/coach and tennis specific providers in rehabilitation, nutrition, sports psychology, and performance.
  • Continuing education to ensure tennis specific treatment plans

By being on the court to evaluate players’ strokes, we are able to work with coaches to plan tennis treatment programs that help athletes get back on the court more quickly and avoid additional injury through the years.

Our physicians and staff look for the root cause of every injury – such as mechanics, volume of play, equipment, inflexibility or strength deficits – and then provide proper medical treatment, recommendations regarding ideal training, and when appropriate, suggestions for tennis-specific stroke modifications. This combination helps tennis athletes play safely through injury and remain healthy on the court.

To receive treatment through this incredibly unique program for tennis-specific injuries, call us today at 404-778-1831 to make an appointment. We’ll get you back on the court in no time!

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About Dr. Jayanthi

jayanthi-neeru-aNeeru Jayanthi, MD, is considered one of the country’s leading experts in youth sports health, injuries and sports training patterns, as well as an international leader in tennis medicine. He is currently the President of the International Society for Tennis Medicine and Science (STMS) and a certified USPTA tennis teaching professional. He previously was the medical director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University Chicago prior to being recruited to Emory, where he will lead an innovative tennis medicine program.

Dr. Jayanthi’s practice is open to all children and adults with non-surgical issues related to activity and sports. He particularly loves working with young athletes of all sports, and tennis players of all ages.

Sports Cardiology: Heart Healthy & Being Active Live Chat on January 26th

sports-cardio-cilAsk the experts! Talk to the physicians who are the medical providers for the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Dream, Georgia Tech athletes and more!

When you’re an athlete, professional, amateur or weekend warrior, you have unique health needs. Optimal health is vital to your performance and in some cases, your ability to participate at all. Even with the best training and care, the body doesn’t always cooperate. That’s where we come in.

Emory Healthcare is the first and only health system in Atlanta to launch a Sports Cardiology practice. Collaborating with the Emory Sports Medicine Center, the program not only focuses on diagnosing and treating cardiovascular disease, but also preventing future issues.

The unique partnership between Emory Sports Medicine Center and Emory Cardiology means our physicians work together to diagnose your condition and deliver a proper treatment plan so you return to the activity you love, safely. This level of collaborative care is not available in programs that focus on cardiovascular health or sports medicine exclusively.

We encourage athletes and exercising individuals, and their families, of all ages and levels to join us for a live chat on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. EST hosted by Emory sports cardiologist, Jonathan H. Kim, MD, and sports medicine physician, Neeru Jayanthi, MD. Don’t miss your chance to get your general sports and sports cardiology related questions answered by the same physicians who treat the Atlanta Falcons, Hawks, Dream, Georgia Tech and other professional and recreational athletic organizations across metro Atlanta. Register below.

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Extending Nationally-ranked Orthopaedics, Sports and Spine Care

MSKmapRecently, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital was recognized nationally as a top hospital in the country for orthopaedics*, but did you know that we have more than one location? In fact, Emory offers comprehensive orthopaedic, sports medicine and spine care at multiple locations across Atlanta:

Clinic Locations:
★ Atlanta (also has an outpatient surgery center)
★ Dunwoody (also has an outpatient surgery center)
★ Johns Creek
★ Sugarloaf
★ Tucker

Hospital Locations:

  • Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital
  • Emory University Hospital Midtown
  • Emory Johns Creek Hospital

Physical Therapy Locations:

  • Atlanta (3 different locations)
  • Dunwoody
  • Johns Creek
  • Sugarloaf
  • Tucker

Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital is Georgia’s first and only hospital designated primarily to spine and joint replacement surgery. Each of our orthopaedic physicians has received years of specific training to specialize in his or her area of expertise and all use progressive treatment approaches, many of them pioneered right here at Emory and taught around with world. Surgical procedures and other treatments that are rarely performed at other hospitals are routinely performed at Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine.

In additional to expanding our geographic reach over the last few years, Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine has continuously reinvested resources and funding back into its existing facilities to improve research, technology and care delivery models, ensuring that the patient and family experience is unmatched. This commitment to delivering supreme care has resulted in our patients consistently giving us some of the highest patient satisfaction scores in the country**.

To see an Emory orthopaedic, sports medicine or spine specialist at one of our convenient locations, call 404-778-3350 today. Appointments for surgical second opinions or acute sports injuries are available within 48 hours.

*Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

** Ranked by Press Ganey

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Related Resources:
Orthopaedics at Emory Healthcare

What is a ruptured ligament?

sprained-ankleA sprained ankle is a very common injury in athletes, non-athletes and people of all ages. Approximately 25,000 people experience this injury each day. Ankle sprains are usually caused by an injury that places stress on a joint or ruptures the supporting ligaments. A ligament is an elastic structure that connects bones to other bones.

A ruptured ligament indicates a severe sprain. The ligaments in the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position, providing stabilization and support. Rupturing occurs when the ligaments tear completely or separate from the bone, impairing proper joint function.

Causes of ankle sprains

  • Sprains are common injuries caused by sports and physical fitness activities. These activities include: walking, basketball, volleyball, soccer and other jumping sports. Contact sports such as football, hockey and boxing put athletes at risk for ankle injury.
  • Falls, twists, or rolls of the foot that stretch beyond its normal motions are a result of ankle sprains.
  • Uneven surfaces or stepping down at an angle can cause sprains.

Treatment for ankle sprains

When treating a severe sprain with a ruptured ligament, surgery or immobilization may be needed. Most ankle sprains need a period of protection to heal that usually takes four to six weeks. A cast or a cast brace protects and supports the ankle during the recovery period. Rehabilitation is used to help decrease pain and swelling and ultimately prevents chronic ankle problems.

A sports medicine specialist should evaluate the injury and recommend a treatment plan. Meanwhile, using the RICE method is a simple and often the best treatment for injuries.

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compress
  • Elevate

Surgical treatments are rare in ankle sprains, but surgery may be needed in the event the injury fails to respond to nonsurgical treatment. Possible surgical options include:

  • Arthroscopy is a procedure done on the joint to see how extensive the damage is. Surgeons look for loose fragments of bone or cartilage or if a ligament is in caught in the joint.
  • Ligament reconstruction repairs the torn ligament with stitches or sutures.

How to prevent ankle sprains

Tips to prevent ankle sprains include:

  • Stretching and warming-up before physical activity
  • Wearing shoes that fit properly
  • Paying attention to walking, running or working surfaces

The highly-trained physicians and surgeons at the Emory Sports Medicine Center treat a wide variety of sports medicine conditions and athletic injuries, including sprains and strains from the foot and ankle to hand and elbow.

About Dr. Olufade

olufade-oluseunDr. Olufade is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports related injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in concussion, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration.

Dr. Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

Related Resources
Is it a Sprain? Or a Fracture?
Find Out How to Prevent, Diagnose & Treat Ankle Sprains
What Should You Do When You Sprain Your Ankle?

How to Recognize & Prevent Heat-Related Illness

heat-exhaustionWith the extremely hot temperatures this summer and school sports about ready to start up, heat illness is a problem that should be on every athlete, coach, and parent’s mind. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 618 deaths per year are due to heat-related illness. Heat illness is triggered by environmental heat exposure and occurs when the body is unable to cool itself down. Heat can cause a wide range of problems from tight muscles and flushing to complete organ shut down and death. Heat-related illnesses include the following:

  • Heat cramps – muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise
  • Heat rash – skin irritation from excessive sweating
  • Heat exhaustion – an illness that can come before a heatstroke as the body is beginning to overheat and shut down
  • Heatstroke – a severe, life-threatening illness in which body loses it’s ability to regulate heat and core body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes

People who are at greatest risk for heat-related illnesses are infants and children up to four years of age, people age 65 and older, and people who are overweight, ill or on certain medications.

Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable. Below are some warning signs to watch out for as well as tips for how to respond:

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

• Weakness
• Headaches or mild confusion
• Cold, pale, and clammy skin
• Fast, weak pulse
• Nausea or vomiting
• Cramping
• Abnormal Breathing
• Fainting

What You Should Do:

• Move to a cooler location.
• Lie down and loosen your clothing.
• Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
• Sip water.
• Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting begins and persists.

Signs of Heat Stroke

• High body temperature (above 103°F)*
• Hot, red, dry or moist skin
• Rapid and strong pulse
• Seizures
• Possible unconsciousness or severe mental changes

What You Should Do:

• Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
• Move the person to a cooler environment.
• Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
• Do NOT give fluids.

During hot weather it is important to increase your fluid intake, regardless of activity level. Drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour and avoid drinks containing alcohol or a lot of sugar as they will essentially cause you to lose more fluid. It is important to drink some electrolytes too. A watered down sports drink is probably the best balance of fluids and electrolytes. Make sure you are “pre-hydrating” by drinking fluids prior to the activity. If you start a practice or game dehydrated, then you will only become more dehydrated and are more likely to have problems. You can monitor your hydration status by checking your urine when you use the restroom. Your urine should be clear if you are well-hydrated; a dark yellow means you need to drink more fluids.

Remember to keep cool, wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen, and stay indoors if possible. Finally, be sure to speak up and notify coaches, teammates, parents if you are starting to feel bad with cramping, confusion, or other concerning signs.

Related Resources
Preventing & Recognizing Symptoms of Dehydration Among Student Athletes

About Dr. Jeff Webb

Jefwebb-jeffreyfrey Webb, MD, sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. During his training and practice he has provided medical coverage for division I college football and other sports, multiple high schools, ballet, the Rockettes, marathons, international track and field events, and the Special Olympics. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team. He is also a consulting physician for several Atlanta area high schools, the Atlanta Dekalb International Olympic Training Center, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Perimeter College and many other club sports teams.

He is active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.