Environmental emergencies, including thermal injuries, lightning, and dehydration, are risks all athletes face. This course describes the concepts of thermal injuries, including signs and symptoms of thermal injuries and dehydration. In addition to temperature related illness, lightning exposure needs appropriate emergency management responses for outdoor sporting events. Danny Smith presents tools to prevent and treat environmental situations, as well as return to play criteria following heat exhaustion, heat cramps, hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration, and lightning storms. This course utilizes motion graphic animations, downloadable materials, case-based learning assessments and a question and answer discussion between therapists to prepare the sports physical therapist for the management of environmental situations.
Danny D. Smith, PT, DHSc, OCS, SCS, ATC graduated from the University of Tennessee Memphis with a BS Degree in Physical Therapy in 1972. He completed his Master’s Degree at East Tennessee State University in 1979 and his Doctor of Health Sciences at the University of St. Augustine in 1999, making him one of the first to complete a Doctorate in Physical Therapy in the US. Dr. Smith's area of study was the pre-hospital care of injured athletes by physical therapists. He also completed training as an Emergency Medical Technician and was actively involved with the Burke County (NC) Rescue Squad for a number of years. Due to his involvement in the Sports Physical Therapy Section of the APTA, Dr. Smith was presented with the Turner A. Blackburn Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Ron Peyton Award, which is the highest award presented by the SPTS. In 1996, Dr. Smith became an instructor with the American Red Cross in Emergency Response and became an Emergency Response Instructor Trainer. His goal was to educate physical therapists in emergency care on the field, in the community, and in the classroom. Since 1996, Dr. Smith has completed over 200 Emergency Response and Emergency Medical Response classes and continues to conduct classes today. If you are interested in attending or hosting a class in your facility, please contact Dr. Smith.
Thermal injury occurs when the body cannot produce enough heat loss to maintain a constant core temperature of 98.6°F. When the body cannot control core temperature, thermoregulation is lost and the end result can be heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or death. This chapter discusses the importance of maintaining equilibrium in hot and/or humid conditions, as well as responses to heat illnesses, hypernatremia, and hyponatremia.
The most common cold related conditions athletes experience are hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia is described as a general cooling of the body, while frostbite is the freezing of body tissues. This chapter will describe the different stages of each of the injuries as well as treatment and prevention options.
Lightning emergencies are a risk of outdoor sporting events, with only flash floods and river floods causing more weather related deaths. This chapter will discuss the protocol for treating lightning injuries, including a safety assessment of the area, evaluation and treatment options, and prevention guidelines.
Dehydration can affect the physical and mental performance of athletes, and often times is not recognized until after the athlete is dehydrated. This chapter will discuss signs and symptoms and treatment strategies for dehydration, as well as tactics to get athlete to remain hydrated throughout training and competition.
For more information on managing thermal injuries and hydration with your athletes, we recommend you review these handouts. These materials will help you monitor environmental concerns and make return to play decisions.