NATA unveils key points of heat illness position statement at exclusive Dallas Fort Worth media event

DALLAS (June 14, 2002) – The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) officially will unveil its "Heat Illness Position Statement" this fall, but today hosted an exclusive event at Baylor-Tom Landry Center for its hometown Dallas-Fort Worth media, who wanted a sneak peek at hearing the key recommendations and prevention tips. The event was held on the same day NATA's four-day, 53rd Annual Meeting & Clinical Symposia kicked off at the Dallas Convention Center. NATA is the national member organization for more than 22,000 certified athletic trainers (ATCs), allied health care professionals who can be found working with high school, collegiate and professional athletes, as well as in corporate and clinical settings. "Dallas is, of course, hot in June, and it's our home city, so it made sense for us to choose this day to partially unveil NATA's heat illness research," said Julie Max, NATA president. "We feel that having professional recommendations as they relate to heat illness is extremely crucial. The NATA has long-awaited the completion of this statement and we're pleased to attach our name to the front end of it, knowing we are completely confident in the material presented. Our hope is that it will boost awareness in how heat illness injuries can be prevented and treated now and into the future." NATA's research indicates that the subtle signs and symptoms associated with exertional heat illness (heat cramp, heat exhaustion, heat stroke) are often overlooked, resulting in more serious problems for affected athletes. According to Douglas J. Casa, PhD, ATC, heat illness expert and contributing author of NATA’s soon-to-be-released Heat Illness Position Statement (in the Journal of Athletic Training), the recommendations presented "provide athletic trainers and allied health care providers with an integrated scientific and practical approach to the prevention, recognition and treatment of heat illness." Casa, who is on the University of Connecticut faculty, briefly outlined the various strategies for preventing and treating exertional heat illness to assist ATCs and other allied health providers to maximize health, safety and sport performance as they relate to these illnesses. Prevention steps include:

  • Ensure that appropriate medical coverage is available and that medical personnel are familiar with exertional heat illness prevention, recognition and management
  • Conduct a thorough, physician-supervised medical screening before athletic training begins
  • Adapt athletes to exercise in the heat gradually over 10 to 14 days
  • Educate athletes and coaches regarding heat illness and hydration, and encourage athletes to sleep at least six to eight hours a night in a cool environment
  • Develop event and practice guidelines and education materials for hot, humid weather, and check environmental conditions before and during the activity; modify activity under high-risk condition and plan rest/hydration breaks to match the environmental conditions and activity intensity
  • Allow two- to three-hour rest periods at mealtimes and provide adequate supply of proper fluids to maintain hydration
  • Weigh high-risk athletes before and after practice to estimate amount of lost body water; ensure a return to pre-practice weight
  • Minimize the amount of equipment and clothing worn by the athlete in hot or humid conditions and minimize warm-up time when feasible
  • Allow athletes to practice, or at least rest, in shaded areas
  • Include the recommended and proper supplies on the field, in the locker room and at other stations
  • Notify local hospital and emergency personnel before mass participation events to inform them of the event and the increased possibility of heat-related illness
  • Those who begin training in the late summer, particularly football, soccer and cross-country athletes, experience exertional heat illness more often than athletes who begin training during the winter and spring," added Casa. "Obviously Texas is a high-risk area for heat illness and requires extra caution and recognition." Joining Casa at today’s event to discuss NATA’s Heat Illness Position Statement were Grant Teaff, former Baylor University head football coach and current executive director of the American Football Coaches Association; Ken Locker, ATC, director of Baylor SportsCare; Chad Hennings, former NFL Dallas Cowboys’ standout; and orthopaedic surgeon Howard A. Moore, MD, team physician for Celina High School and the Dallas Sidekicks professional indoor soccer team. The NATA’s mission statement is to enhance the quality of health care for athletes and those engaged in physical activity, and to advance the profession of athletic training through education and research in the prevention, evaluation, management and rehabilitation of injuries. For more, visit www.nata.org.

 
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