Learn about Heat Illness in Youth Sport
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Director of Sports Medicine, Dr. David Marshall talks about heat illness and how to prevent it.
Casey Bass: Wow! It is unbelievably hot out here, and the thing right now, what's been in all of our time covering, All Star Tournaments where kids are playing twice a day, three or four days in a row, and we are getting ready for Football season, this can't be very good for the kids. Let's over to children's health care and talk with Dr. David Marshall and find out what we can do, to help make sure our kids are safe in these conditions.
Casey Bass: We are getting into the heat of summer, and this is when Football camps across the country start gearing up, and it's about this time every year that we see the newspaper article start to pop up about kids who die from heat illness. But why are so many kids suffering from heat exhaustion and when there is so much information to be found about hydration. We are going to address some of those topics today, and find out what we can do to make our kids safer, with friend of the show and Director of Sports Medicine here at Children's Healthcare, Atlanta, Dr. David Marshall. Doc, thanks once again.
Dr. David Marshall: Thank you for having me.
Casey Bass: So, simply, why can Football coaches, that's what we are talking about right now, I guess it goes for any sport, but Football coaches in general, what can they do to make sure their kids are safe.
Dr. David Marshall: Well, with any ailment in sports, whether it's knee injuries or concussions or heat illness, which are going to talk about, its education. The coaches, the trainers, if they are present, that the kids and their parents need to be educated on things which you can do, not just to recognize and treat heat illness, and also to prevent it from happening.
Casey Bass: I saw, the first thing I would guess is knowing when to practice.
Dr. David Marshall: Yeah, then that's a good part. Here in the South, it gets pretty hot, and there is recommendations and guidelines as to how to alter your practice based on the heat index. A heat index is a measure of the amount of humidity and ambient temperature. For example, if it's 85 degrees outside with a relative humidity of 90%, then heat index might be well into the upper 90 or low 100s, and there are charts that are available readily that give the heat index. Really, all you need to do, is be able to measure the relative humidity which can be obtained on the web, and just have a thermometer then.
Casey Bass: That's how you get the relative humidity, you get the temperature on chart, you know whether its' safe to practice. You decide if we can go practice today. What do you do next, to make sure your kids are out there?
Dr. David Marshall: Well, when it is safe for the kids right on the field, then you need to decide whether you should alter your practices to accommodate the heat. For example, there are different zones in the heat chart. There is the Yellow zone, which is where, yeah, you might need to have a little more frequent water breaks, maybe every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise, the kids need to take a break. Go find a shaded area and be required to drink. Often times a kid should be required to take their helmets and shoulder pads off to increase that evaporative cooling, which is the most efficient way to cool our bodies during exercise then. There are other zones which is the Orange zone, which you can see on the chart, where the kids might need to be required to practice indoors, or they might require to be practiced in t-shirts and shorts, and that be allowed to put that gear on. Because really a full football equipment is going to cover 60% of your total body area, which really decreases your body's ability cool itself from sweating and evaporation.
Casey Bass: Would you suggest Football coaches, because we tend to be kind of in a zone where it drags us, doesn't have one person on the field to keep time decide, this is when we need a break.
Dr. David Marshall: That's a great point. If they are fortune enough to have an athletic trainer at the practice, and that's what athletic trainer's job is to make sure that those policies are followed. However, the Youth Sports and even our Pele league don't have the luxury of an athletic trainer, so you are right, so one of the coaches, whether it's the head coach or preferably an assistant coach, either one to watch the clock to blow the whistle, and say, hey guys, mandatory water break. Another thing to think about it is the game time, that there is really no reason why a referee can't have scheduled TV timeouts for water breaks or Soccer matches. Why can't we divide a Soccer game on a Saturday afternoon in the four quarters, rather than two halves? So, there should be built-in breaks required by the officials to have water breaks.
Casey Bass: So you decide whether or not it's safe to practice. You have built-in water breaks at appropriate intervals in the side of what kind of equipment to wear and how to do practice. Is there anything else you can do as a coach?
Dr. David Marshall: Well, there are a lot of things they can do, and this is the preparation phase. They need to make sure that they have am identifiable shaded area. If they are practicing near a big tree, identify some big tree as the place where the kids go. If they are suffering heat illness, or just doing breaks. If you don't have access to a tree or shaded area, then you might need to purchase one of those big 10X10 or 12X12 pop up tents, and set that up for every practice. That can be very helpful.
I like the kids to imply what's called the Buddy system. So, every kid has a buddy on their team that they kind of watch over. That way you don't have to rely on the coach to notice if the kid is starting to really sweat, starting to get lightheaded, just not acting right, that every player or every couple of minutes or every hurdle, you identify your buddy, and make eye contact, make sure you are okay, and I think that can be a very helpful tool in early identification of a kid who might be getting into trouble.
Casey Bass: So what a great information as usual, and I would just close with this thought, I lot of time I think that we underestimate what kids are capable of especially, mentally and what they can handle with education. People are thinking of educating the coaches and educating the parents, but what this buddy system you are saying, educate the kids, and make the kids aware of how important education is.
Dr. David Marshall: Right. Take care of each other.
Case Bass: Alright doc.
Dr. David Marshall: It's a team sport.
Casey Bass: We appreciate you buddy.
Dr. David Marshall: Thank you.
Casey Bass: This is the team Dr. Marshall, Casey Bass, this is ClubhouseGas. We will see you right back here next time for another great edition.
Learn about Heat Illness in Youth Sport
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