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Littauer offers heat-related illness information to local coaches

NLH aims to keep local children safe while participating in summer sports.

Littauer's Sports Medicine and Rehab Team will host a seminar Nov 30.

Littauer’s Sports Medicine and Rehab Team will host a seminar Nov 30.

Gloversville, NY — As summer sports camps start throughout the area, Nathan Littauer Hospital’s Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Team is reminding local sports teams about the dangers of heat-related illness and dehydration. The hospital is offering a free 45 minute seminar “Beat the Heat” to coaches in the area to address the issue of heat-related illness and dehydration. The program, headed by William Oates, Director of the Sport Medicine and Rehabilitation Team and STOP Sport Injuries liaison explains, “The goal here is to make sure our kids stay safe as the temperatures rise.” He added, “We have a real passion to keep our kids safe while they are on the field. With heat-related illnesses on the rise, we wanted to give as much information to local teams as possible.” Classes can be arranged at the hospital or at a central location.

As a physical therapist and former athlete Mr. Oates said, “At this time of the year we are very concerned about dehydration. The risk that an athlete will become dehydrated, or suffer a more serious heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, is always present, but increases dramatically when the heat index is high and we have hot, humid conditions.”

Studies show that between 50 and 75 percent of girls and boys attending summer sports camps are significantly dehydrated, according to three University of Connecticut studies. The studies found that 25 to 30 percent of the campers studied showed signs of serious dehydration, putting them at increased risk of heat-related illnesses. (Uconn, 2006)

Littauer warns that having sports drinks and water available are not enough. According to research, campers were dehydrated despite the availability of water and sports drinks, frequent breaks and coaches’ encouragement to stay hydrated. Oates said, “What a team needs is a hydration plan.”

“The children, ages 9 to 16, also suffered significant dehydration despite an overwhelming display of knowledge and positive attitudes about healthy hydration habits”, said Douglas Casa, a Certified Athletic Trainer and Director of Athletic Training Education at U Conn and lead researcher in the studies.

“Most campers thought they were doing a pretty good job of staying hydrated during the day, but their thirst level during practice was not a good indicator of their hydration status,” Casa said. “Obviously, there’s a gap between their knowledge and their actual behavior.” (Momsteams.com)

“Unfortunately you cannot use thirst as an indicator of dehydration.” explained Oates. “Dehydration can occur before an athlete gets thirsty. We want young athletes to be well-hydrated so they can avoid athletic performance issues or worse, be at risk for heat-related illnesses”

Studies also show that heat-related deaths are rising. The critical importance of hydration for athletes was highlighted by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research’s Annual Survey of Football Injuries, which reported 13 heat-related deaths among middle school and high school football players in 2006, the highest total since 1936. (UNC.edu)

“Now there are even apps on Iphones and smart phones to address dehydration.” explained Mr. Oates. To see get more information about the “Beat the Heat” program at Littauer please contact William Oates at 773-5540.

Some facts:

* Dehydration can begin when an athlete loses as little as 1 percent of body weight. In a 70-pound child, that is less than 1 pound of weight lost through sweat; (University of Missouri Extension)

* Dehydration effects performance: as little as a 2% decrease in body weight from fluid loss (e.g. 1.2 lb for a 60-lb athlete) can lead to a significant decrease in muscular strength and stamina; (Bar-OR, Dotan, “Voluntary hypohydration in 10 to 12 year old boys”).

* Children don’t tolerate heat and humidity as well as adults and get dehydrated very easily; (Berning and Nelson, “Nutrition for Sport and Exercise”, 2005)

* Children have a lower sweating rate; (Berning and Nelson, “Nutrition for Sport and Exercise”, 2005)

* Children experience greater heat production in exercise and has less ability to transfer this heat from muscles to the skin; (Berning and Nelson, “Nutrition for Sport and Exercise”, 2005)

* Dehydration is common in kids playing sports. (Bar-OR, Dotan, “Voluntary hypohydration in 10 to 12 year old boys”).

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About Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home:

Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home is a full-service, 74 bed acute care hospital with an 84 bed skilled nursing home located in upstate New York. Littauer provides the finest in state-of-the-art technology and a caring, dedicated staff of health care professionals. Over the years, the hospital has expanded its services in order to offer health care that is comprehensive, accessible, and relevant to the needs of the communities they serve. The Littauer medical staff brings amazing technical expertise and competence to the residents of Fulton County and the surrounding communities. To learn more, please visit www.nlh.org.

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