Archive for December, 2011

12 Safety Tips for the Winter Season - Prevent Sickness

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Spending time outdoors during the winter season is fun, but requires special precautions. Prevention is a major task for the Athletic Trainer. Here are some things to consider ahead of time when planning for outdoor activities in the cold this winter. Remember, the goal is to be active and avoid injury or illness!

Many of us love the winter season because of the holidays and the time we get to spend with our friends and family members. But something that definitely isn’t so wonderful about this time of year is getting sick. After all, there is a reason winter is known as cold and flu season. Here are some tips on how to prevent yourself from getting sick:

  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleeping boosts your immune system by releasing the hormone cortisol. Making sure you get at least seven hours of sleep per night is an easy way to keep yourself from getting sick.
  • Take a hot and cold shower. You can jump-start your immune system with fluctuations of temperature. For 30 seconds at the end of your shower, stand under the hottest stream of water your body can tolerate. Then for 10 seconds, turn the water to cold. Repeat this three times.
  • Exercise moderately. If you exercise too much and too intensely, this can actually make you sicker and cause your body to be more susceptible to catching an illness. But exercising moderately can boost your immune system.
  • Disinfect your living and work space often. Remember to disinfect your car steering wheel and gearshift, telephone, keyboard, mouse, light switches, TV remote, gas station pump. Keep hand sanitizer at your desk and in your car.
  • Wash your hands and sing Happy Birthday to ensure you scrub long enough using warm water and soap
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not into your hands.

Read the previous safety tips. Continue reading the BOC blog posts throughout the month of December to read the full 12 safety tips for the winter season.

The Importance of Continuing Education - Even During the Holidays

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

We know the holidays can leave us feeling frazzled, and if you are like a lot of other Certified Athletic Trainers (ATs) you've waited until the last minute to complete all (yikes!) or a portion of your continuing education (CE) requirement. If that is the case, take a minute to remember who you are and what you stand for as an AT. ATs are many times first responders, and make very important judgment calls and decisions every day regarding patient care. We all know that CE is required to maintain your Board of Certification certification, but completing relevant, applicable CE is also paramount to providing the best patient care possible, remaining competitive in the workforce and competent in your role.

Continuing Education - Beyond the Traditional
The years you spent in college learning the basics of what it means to be an AT were valuable, but fast paced increases in healthcare knowledge, as well as advancements in technology means that ATs must move beyond their traditional education. CE provides an opportunity for ATs to not only maintain relevant knowledge in the field, but to also specialize their skills and advance the profession as a whole. 

Expansion of the profession into new and emerging environments also increases the relevancy of CE requirements. By providing ATs with enhanced knowledge of techniques, or practices pertinent to their role or environment, continuing education helps ATs focus on what matters most in their environment.  

Improving Patient Care
You've surely heard this argument for CE before, but one of the major roles of CE is to improve patient care and increase awareness around advancements in healthcare knowledge. As first responders, ATs must be sufficiently well versed in life saving techniques, and have increased awareness of issues surrounding immediate patient care.

Increased knowledge of subjects, such as pharmacology, falls into the category of something learned in school, easily forgotten, and yet necessary to providing superior patient care. The first few minutes post injury or accident are crucial, and as first responders ATs must maintain current to increase positive patient outcomes. The more we learn, the better we are able to respond to traumas and improve patient care. 

Continuing Education at Work
A more skilled AT is more employable and therefore stands a higher chance of snagging that coveted position, or maintaining a current loved position. Maintaining a competitive advantage in the workforce is a skill in and of itself, and continuing to increase knowledge through focused CE is one way to sharpen that saw. With the advancement of technology many new skills and techniques can even be learned via distance learning or internet based interactive CE. Virtual or video based courses that are aimed at delivering high quality content are becoming more readily available and more popular, and allow ATs who wish to get the most out of the content to do so. As technology rapidly advances this type of continuing education is also becoming more cost effective for the learner.

As the Holidays are coming to a close, remember the importance of your CE  to your professional role as an AT; choose courses relevant to your role, which will advance your abilities as an AT! Oh, and if you're due this year, be sure and complete your 75 CEUs by December 31st!

This guest post is brought to us by DeAndrea Laub, Marketing Director for HomeCEUConnection. HomeCEU is a provider of BOC approved continuing education, (provider #P3633) with over 600 hours of continuing education content to choose from, including premium video based content. All HomeCEU courses offer a post course exam and certificate which can be accessed & printed at any time.

12 Safety Tips for the Winter Season - Wear Layers

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Spending time outdoors during the winter season is fun, but requires special precautions. Prevention is a major task for the Athletic Trainer. Here are some things to consider ahead of time when planning for outdoor activities in the cold this winter. Remember, the goal is to be active and avoid injury or illness!

Think like an onion. Layering simply means wearing a combination of clothes (in layers) to help regulate your temperature and keep you warm and dry. The layers you wear for a given activity are matched to the weather, your activity level and your personal preference There are essentially three layers to consider: base, mid, and outer. Each layer has a specific function. The base layer wicks moisture & perspiration away from your skin to keep you warm. The mid layer is for insulation and keeping you warm, The outer layer allows moisture to escape while blocking wind, and repel water.

The Base Layer
The base layer is in contact with your skin. A tight fitting and wicking material is best to keep you warm and dry. Polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate, and wool are all good choices Avoid cotton because it traps moisture, so it stays wet and draws heat from you. Base layers come in various weights (lightweight, midweight and heavyweight). Select a weight based upon the outside temperature and your activity level. The lighter weight is better at wicking, the heavyweight has more insulation.

-Look for long underwear and wicking tees 

The Mid Layer
The Mid layer provides insulation. It should be a bit looser than the base layer, but to function properly it needs to maintain contact with the base layer. Mid layers also carry moisture away from the base layer to the outer layer. Common material for mid layers include down, polyester, fleece, wool and newer synthetic / natural blends. Many mid layer clothing has extras such as pit zips, long front zippers, adjustable cuffs and collars.

- Look for down jackets and fleece jackets

The Outer Layer
The outer layer blocks wind and allows moisture to escape. Typical outer layers include shells made of Gore-Tex or a similar material. Extras such as pit zips, ankle zippers (for pants), and a variety of ventilation options are standard. Outer layers should also be tough enough to withstand tears and abrasions. Other less high tech options may include wind resistant materials, or water resistant fabrics.

-Look for wind stopper and hard shell jackets

Once you have a layering plan, you can adjust your temperature control simply by removing or adding layers as needed.

Head, Hands and Feet
After your core is covered, you need to properly dress your extremities. Wear a hat, mittens or gloves, socks and shoes or boots that match your activity and weather conditions. A ski mask and scarf will prevent EIA/breathing problems. To cool yourself if you overheat, you can often just remove your hat or gloves. Keep in mind that wind blocking fabric is also important for hats and gloves. Although fleece is warm it does not provide protection from wind.

Proper layering will not only make you more comfortable during winter activity, but it also keeps you safe. When you return inside, warm tissues slowly and don’t put hands or feet under hot water to warm your hands. Watch this short video for more information about layering for winter activity.

Read the previous safety tips. Continue reading the BOC blog posts throughout the month of December to read the full 12 safety tips for the winter season.

12 Safety Tips for the Winter Season - Snow Shoveling

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Spending time outdoors during the winter season is fun, but requires special precautions. Prevention is a major task for the Athletic Trainer. Here are some things to consider ahead of time when planning for outdoor activities in the cold this winter. Remember, the goal is to be active and avoid injury or illness!

Caution: Before you strap up your boots and grab your snow shovel, you might want to think twice. An average of 11,500 people in the U.S. are sent to the emergency room each year for injuries related to shoveling snow -- injuries caused by slips and falls, acute muscle pain and cardiac problems -- according to a study from the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

While people may complain of a sore back (a common snow shoveling injury), what doctors worry most about are the heart problems that result from the arduous chore. The study found that a mere two minutes of shoveling snow can spike your heart rate to unsafe levels.

Each year an estimated 1,200 deaths are due to heart attacks brought on by snow shoveling.  People who have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or smoke are at an even greater risk.

Why the heart rate spike? You can blame the cold weather as cold air can cause blood vessels to constrict in the body, resulting in skyrocketing blood pressure. Cold weather combined with an activity creates excessive demands on the heart.  Also, due to increased exertion from shoveling with lifting, it's the equivalent of moderate exercise, so a person who goes outside and  is not used to doing this chore could really stress his or her heart.

So is there a safe way to shovel snow?  It’s important to listen to your body and take time to rest. Don’t go out and try to shovel the snow all at once. Use an appropriate shovel and a small shovel. To prevent straining your back, lift at the knees when picking up the snow, this way your legs are doing all the work. Choose an ergonomic shovel that has a curved handle. These shovels help you keep your back straighter and reduce spinal stress.

Consider a plastic blade shovel instead of metal.  Plastic blade shovels are lighter. When in doubt, ask someone else to shovel your driveway or invest in a snow-blower.

Read the previous safety tips. Continue reading the BOC blog posts throughout the month of December to read the full 12 safety tips for the winter season.

12 Safety Tips for the Winter Season – Sun Protection

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Spending time outdoors during the winter season is fun, but requires special precautions. Prevention is a major task for the Athletic Trainer. Here are some things to consider ahead of time when planning for outdoor activities in the cold this winter. Remember, the goal is to be active and avoid injury or illness!

The winter cold is deceptive. Why would you need sun protection when you are shivering under a jacket and wearing long johns to keep you warm?  Sun safety isn’t only important in the summer. The sun bathes everyone in UV rays rain or shine, winter or summer.

More than 90 percent of all skin cancers are associated with sun exposure. It's easy to associate winter with frostbite and windburn, but most people are unaware that UV rays can be every bit as damaging on the slopes as on the beach. If you live in a place that is sunny all around, it goes without saying that you should wear a sunblock all day long with sunglasses to protect your eyes. If you live in a place where there is snow, the glaring white snow reflects the sun’s UV light back to you so you get UV rays directly from the sun as well as indirectly from the glare of the snow, making sunscreen and sunglasses necessary.

What's so bad about UV rays?

Two words: Free Radicals.

Our bodies are made of cells. These cells, like everything else, are made of molecules. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons. These electrons seek to pair up to stabilize the molecule. They do so by stealing electrons from the molecules they come in contact with, rendering those molecules unstable and causing them in turn to make other molecules unstable. When this happens within the cells of the body, damage occurs. Sunlight is also related to cataracts, so wear sunglasses to protect your eyes during the day.

UV rays from the sun produce free radicals, so the less exposure you have to sunlight, the better. Yes, sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D but 10 minutes of sun exposure in the morning is all you need to get enough vitamin D for the day. Go ahead and use sunblock to protect your body.

For more information regarding sun safety, visit the Sun Savy for Athletic Trainers blog. Read the previous safety tips. Continue reading the BOC blog posts throughout the month of December to read the full 12 safety tips for the winter season.

12 Safety Tips for the Winter Season - Recovering from Falls

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Spending time outdoors during the winter season is fun, but requires special precautions. Prevention is a major task for the BOC Certified Athletic Trainer. Here are some things to consider ahead of time when planning for outdoor activities in the cold this winter. Remember, the goal is to be active and avoid injury or illness!

Falling is no laughing matter. Each year, thousands of people are hospitalized by seemingly innocent falls. As in most health concerns, prevention is your best course of action. Once a person learns how to fall, they greatly reduce their chance of serious injury. How can an ice skater, especially an adult who doesn’t want to fall, fall safely?

Falling on ice can cause some injuries and pain. If you fall properly you can prevent yourself from getting any kind of injury. There are a few techniques you can follow to prevent yourself from getting hurt. After falling you have to get back up safely without falling again.

  • Wear gloves, wrist guards, knee, or elbow pads. These will protect you from getting hurt if you fall.
  • Put your hands on your waist or in front of you when you are skating.
  • Practice falling. Try to fall without hurting yourself. First try falling without skates and then move on to fall with skates. Try falling on different speeds with your skates on.
  • Bend your knees and go into a dip position. If you know you are about to fall just go into a dip position.
  • Fall to the side and lean forward as you fall on the ice. This will lower the chances of you getting injured.
  • Recover from your fall. Turn over on your hands and knees.
  • Take one foot and place it between your hands.
  • Take the other foot and place it between your hands. Applying pressure to your toes and using your toe picks will help you so you won't slide.
  • Push yourself up and stand up on the ice.

Read the previous safety tips. Continue reading the BOC blog posts throughout the month of December to read the full 12 safety tips for the winter season.

12 Safety Tips for the Winter Season:Ice

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Spending time outdoors during the winter season is fun, but requires special precautions. Prevention is a major task for the BOC Certified Athletic Trainer. Here are some things to consider ahead of time when planning for outdoor activities in the cold this winter. Remember, the goal is to be active and avoid injury or illness!

Regardless how well a victim can swim, ice cold water can cause severe hypothermia in less than 30 minutes - leaving the victim too weak to get out of the frigid water.

Safety on the ice requires preparation and diligence. You should try going on the ice the first time with an experienced person. Before you venture out, learn how to stay safe on the ice.

1. Never go on the ice alone. Naturally occurring ice is unpredictable. Make sure you have proper safety equipment and a buddy.

2. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) under your winter gear.

3. Wear appropriate footwear.

4. Carry ice picks at all times. Put them in an accessible pocket where they will be easy to reach while floating in the water.

5. Carry a throw rope with you. You can buy one, or make one using an empty and clean plastic jug stuffed with nylon rope.

6. Stopping on ice is extremely difficult. When snowmobiling or driving in low-visibility conditions, go slow enough to be able to stop if you see something. Many vehicle accidents happen because the driver couldn't stop by the time he or she saw the hole in the ice.

7. When driving, remove your seatbelt (since you're going slow and easy). Keep your window rolled down to facilitate a quick escape if your car falls through the ice.

8. Make sure you know how to escape from ice, and that you know how to help someone escape ice.

 Ice Tips:

Gauging the strength of ice is very difficult. There is no such thing as 100% safe ice.

•Never walk or drive on cloudy ice

•Only go on clear, thick ice

•Spring ice is NEVER safe

•The thickness of ice is never consistent - it will be flat on top, but not on the bottom

•Snow on ice acts as an insulator - it makes ice warmer and weaker

•Extreme cold snaps will weaken the ice

•Ice formed over running water (rivers & streams) is more dangerous than ice formed over standing water (lakes & ponds)

Read the previous safety tips. Continue reading the BOC blog posts throughout the month of December to read the full 12 safety tips for the winter season.

 

12 Safety Tips for the Winter Season - Cold-Weather Workout Tips

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Spending time outdoors during the winter season is fun, but requires special precautions. Prevention is a major task for the BOC Certified Athletic Trainer. Here are some things to consider ahead of time when planning for outdoor activities in the cold this winter. Remember, the goal is to be active and avoid injury or illness!

If cold weather is derailing your fitness activities, personal trainer Kevin Gianni, author of The Busy Person's Fitness Solution, offers these 5 winter weather workout tips:

  1. Lace up your skates. During the winter it's often too cold, too dark, or too slippery to walk or run outside. To get in a great workout, try ice skating -- whether you go to a local pond for a pickup game of hockey, or to the local ice rink (which also offers the advantage of no wind chill).
  2. Try thermal underwear. If you really need to be outside in frigid weather, add a layer of thermal underwear, which will keep you both warm and dry by wicking sweat away from your body, Gianni suggests.
  3. Don't push it. On days when the air feels too cold to even breathe in, heed your body's signals and stay indoors. Cold air can trigger exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
  4. Try a new home routine. Bodyweight routines are exercises that need no equipment and can be done in your own home. There are many types of bodyweight routines, such as yoga, Pilates, and aerobics. Pop in a fitness DVD or download a workout on your MP3 player to get you going.
  5. Set up your own gym. Now's the time to think about getting a treadmill, elliptical machine, or stationary bike. Having your own equipment and knowing how to use it will keep you motivated and help you stay on track.

Read the previous safety tips. Continue reading the BOC blog posts throughout the month of December to read the full 12 safety tips for the winter season.

12 Safety Tips for the Winter Season - Preventative Guidelines

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Spending time outdoors during the winter season is fun, but requires special precautions. Prevention is a major task for the BOC Certified Athletic Trainer. Here are some things to consider ahead of time when planning for outdoor activities in the cold this winter. Remember, the goal is to be active and avoid injury or illness!

To guard against illness and injury caused by outdoor activity in cold weather, NATA recommends implementing a risk management process that includes strategies for preventing, recognizing and treating cold injuries. In addition, when getting ready to exercise in cold weather, one should follow the following preventive guidelines:

  • Wear insulating clothing that allows adjustment to changing weather conditions and also allows evaporation - and minimal absorption - of perspiration;
  • Re-warm your body as needed during outdoor activities. Use external heaters, wear additional clothing or layer clothing, or take regular breaks in a warm indoor environment; 

Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated with water or sports drinks. Avoid alcohol.

Read the previous safety tips. Continue reading the BOC blog posts throughout the month of December to read the full 12 safety tips for the winter season.

12 Safety Tips for the Winter Season - Hypothermia

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Spending time outdoors during the winter season is fun, but requires special precautions. Prevention is a major task for the BOC Certified Athletic Trainer. Here are some things to consider ahead of time when planning for outdoor activities in the cold this winter. Remember, the goal is to be active and avoid injury or illness!

Hypothermia occurs when the body experiences a decrease in core temperature. There are varying severities of hypothermia, the cooler the core body temperature the more severe the hypothermia. Prolonged exposure to cool, wet, windy environmental conditions increases the likelihood of hypothermia. Surprisingly, hypothermia can occur even in cool weather (up to 50º F). When spending time outdoors in colder weather, the body generates heat to maintain core body temperature in two ways: through exercise and by shivering, which is the primary mechanism the body uses to generate heat. Shivering intensity is determined by the severity and duration of cold exposure and generally occurs in the large muscles of the trunk first.

How do you recognize the onset of hypothermia? Look for signs of the "umbles":

  • Grumbling (personality change);
  • Mumbling (having a hard time articulating words);
  • Stumbling (reduced coordination in the arms and legs); and
  • Fumbling (decreased dexterity).

To prevent hypothermia, people should:

  • Wear a hat.  The most significant loss of body heat is from the head and the body has no way to minimize heat loss in this region of the body.
  • Layer clothing.  Wear warm but breathable layers of clothing to stay warm
  • Pay attention to shivering.  Shivering is a good thing because it produces body heat, but if it reaches severe levels, stop exercising and head indoors.
  • Keep up the pace.  Keep your exercise intensity in the cold at moderate to high intensity to help maintain core body temperature. In order to maintain this intensity, take numerous breaks if needed
  • Bring extra clothing.  If you are exercising in a relatively remote area (such as on a long cross-country skiing excursion) bring an extra set of dry clothes with you.

Special considerations for children
Research has shown that, due to a higher surface area to mass ratio and smaller amounts of insulating adipose fat, children lose body heat more quickly than adults.  While the same precautions should be taken for children as for adults, children should take more frequent breaks from exposure to the cold.

Read the previous safety tips. Continue reading the BOC blog posts throughout the month of December to read the full 12 safety tips for the winter season.