Summer Safety Digest: 13 Things You Need to Know for a Safe, Sane Season

LifeSigns-FB-2Yo, summer! You think you’re pretty hot here in North Texas, don’t you? Well, okay, you are … but we’ve got tips for how to chill and enjoy all you have to offer without ending up in the ER. Here’s a roundup of our best summer safety advice.

Top 3 Summer Safety Tips from an Emergency Medicine Physician.

Manisha Gupta, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Denton, gives her 3 top tips for sailing through summer safely and injury-free:

10 More Tips for Summer Safety.

There’s nothing quite like a top 10 list. In this case, we’re actually giving you 13, but who’s counting? All that really matters is that your family stays safe so you can stay sane.

Your comprehensive guide to mosquito-borne illnesses.

zika

Alison Wortman, MD, a maternal and fetal medicine physician with Medical City Alliance, discusses the signs and symptoms of Zika virus.

HCA Medical City Ask a Nurse Infographic_RevisedIf your summer plans get derailed by breaks, aches, bug bites or snakes, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

 

Bikes, Trikes, Scooters and Skates: How to Stay Out of the ER

Scooters2-FBWheels. No matter how young or old you are, these Bronze Age inventions not only represent freedom; they provide it. From your first tricycle to your first car or truck and everything in between, wheels take you where you want to go faster (and in better style) than you could get there on your own. So it’s not surprising that Americans are crazy for all things wheeled, including skateboards, scooters, roller and inline skates, bicycles, tricycles, three-wheelers and more.

It’s also not surprising that we tend to crash them into things or ride them where bigger wheels can easily crash into us. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, nearly 400,000 children 19 and under were seen in hospital emergency rooms for biking, skateboard and skating injuries in 2014, while the Consumer Products Safety Commission reported that 61,000 children aged 15 and under went to the ER for non-motorized scooter injuries the year before.

ice-heat

To help parents better understand what types of injuries are most commonly sustained from wheeled activities and how to treat and prevent them, we spoke to John Badylak, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Medical City Alliance.

“I see all types of injuries, including fractures from falls off of wheeled toys, ATVs and exercise equipment,” Dr. Badylak said. “The most common fracture I see in adults and children who have a ground level fall is a distal radius fracture (broken wrist). I also see children with supracondylar humerus fractures, which is a fracture of the humerus bone (broken upper arm bone) just above the elbow.”

Preventing injuries.

In addition to wrist and arm breaks, other common injuries include cuts, bruises, strains and sprains. About half of injuries occur to the arms and wrists, while the other half is split between the head and the legs and feet.

Gan Su, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Arlington, discusses when to go to the ER with a head injury.

Follow these tips to help prevent injuries:

  • Wear the approved protective gear for your type of activity (helmets, pads, bright clothing, etc.)
  • Wear sturdy, supportive, slip-resistant, close-toed shoes
  • Ride on flat, smooth surfaces away from traffic
  • Don’t ride at night — most motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians and non-motorized toy/vehicle riders happen between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Learn the rules of your chosen activity — take a bike safety class or ask a more experienced child for skateboarding tips
  • Learn how to fall safely by landing on fleshy body parts, tucking arms in and rolling
  • Never text or talk on the phone while driving anything with wheels
  • Always ride in view of caregivers (younger children) or with one or more friends (older kids)

How to tell if a bone is broken.

“Unfortunately, fractures and other injuries happen even with precautions,” said Dr. Badylak. “Every situation and every patient is different. It can be very difficult to know whether an ankle is sprained or broken without an exam by a medical professional and an X-ray. But generally speaking, if an injured individual cannot put weight on a leg to walk or cannot move a joint, he or she should go to the ER to be examined. If a child is not using an arm or leg, then that child should definitely be evaluated by a doctor.”

Michelle Underwood, VP of Emergency Services for Medical City Healthcare, explains when to go the ER with a sprain or fracture.

Treating minor injuries at home.

Dr. Badylak recommends treating minor sprains and bruises with ice, elevation and over the counter anti-inflammatories for swelling and pain. If a minor injury doesn’t get better after a couple of days of rest, seeking medical attention at a doctor’s office or urgent care facility would be wise.

If someone in your family suffers an injury while doing a bit of free-wheeling, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

How to Prevent Spring Injuries from Sidelining Your Family

Spring-Injuries5-FBMother Nature isn’t the only one who goes a little crazy in the spring. Family life gets a bit more hectic, too. Between the increase in daylight hours, a wide variety of sports and after school activities and a few holiday breaks thrown in for good measure, spring can be a challenging time to keep your family safe and healthy. So stick with us, because we’ve got your bases covered.

Tennis, anyone?

Wrestling, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, track and field, softball and baseball are just some of the activity choices your kids have in spring. Sports promote physical fitness, self-confidence and team-building skills, but each one also comes with its own set of risks.

Every year, more than 2.6 million children end up in emergency rooms with sports-related injuries, including broken bones and torn ligaments, bumps and bruises, concussions, eye injuries, heat-related injuries, scrapes and scratches and sprains and strains.

dehydration-fastertx

To help make sure your kids aren’t among those injured, follow these general sports safety tips.

  • Use proper equipment. Equipment and safety gear should be in good condition and approved by the organizations that govern each sport.
  • Inspect practice and competition areas. They should be free of holes, ruts and debris. High-impact sports should be done on forgiving surfaces, such as grass, synthetic rubber or wood, rather than concrete.
  • Insist on qualified adult supervision. The team coach should be trained in first aid and CPR, and all adults should place a high priority on safety.
  • Make sure your child is prepared. In addition to understanding the rules of the game and how to warm up and train, kids need adequate rest, proper nutrition and plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Heat-related illnesses, including dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke, are among the most common sports injuries — especially in hot spots like Texas.ice-heat-fastertx

When should you take your child to the ER with an orthopedic injury?

Most sports injuries can be treated with RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation. If an injury affects your child’s basic functioning in any way — he can’t bend his wrist, is limping, or has symptoms of a concussion — administer basic first aid and then see a doctor. For more serious injuries, take your child to the nearest ER.

Corey Gill, MD, Medical Director of the Pediatric Orthopedics Program at Medical City Children’s Hospital, discusses when a child should go to the ER with an orthopedic injury or possible broken bone.

Jump in – the water’s fine.

Swimming and diving are also popular spring sports. Swimming can be a lifelong activity and a great, low-impact way to stay fit. Consider signing your kids up for swimming lessons as soon as appropriate so that they become comfortable around water and know what to do if they get in trouble. Here’s why:

Drowning facts:

  • Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 4 years old
  • Most drownings in children 1-4 years old occur in home swimming pools
  • Among children 5-14 years old, accidental death by drowning is second only to motor vehicle crashes
  • Nearly 80% of people who drown are male
  • Drowning (called secondary or dry drowning) can occur up to 24 hours after swimming, so if your child exhibits symptoms such as consistent coughing, chest pain, trouble breathing or extreme fatigue after a day in the water, seek emergency medical treatment right away

Drowning doesn’t look like drowning.

The scary thing is, a person who is truly drowning (as opposed to someone experiencing aquatic distress) doesn’t behave as most of us expect. They are physically unable to move their arms, kick their legs, call for help or participate in their own rescue. Unless saved by a trained rescuer within 20 to 60 seconds, the person will submerge. Sadly, each year about 375 children drown within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. Sadder still, in 10 percent of those cases, an adult will actually see them drown without realizing what is happening.

Click on the image below  to watch an amazing interactive video series and see if you can spot the drowning child. It’s harder than you think.

Spring-Injures4-FB

Put on your drunk goggles.

Spring poses challenges for parents of older teens and college-age kids, too, especially during spring break.

Binge drinking.

Binge drinking is alcohol consumption that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08% or higher. That’s about 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females within a 2-hour period. Talk to your teens and pre-teens about peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and driving under the influence (or riding with someone who is). Here’s what you should know.

  • Binge drinking is most common among young adults aged 18 to 34
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent
  • Binge drinking is twice as high among males as females
  • Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive impaired than non-binge drinkers
  • About 90% of the alcohol consumed by people under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinks

If your teens think a few drinks won’t impair their motor skills, you can purchase alcohol impairment simulation goggles — Google “drunk goggles.” They’re available in several BAC levels, including low, moderate and high.

Here’s what happened when Medical City Lewisville’s Manager of Trauma Services, Jennifer Turner, BSN, RN, recruited a volunteer and had her walk the line wearing the goggles.

Driven to distraction.

While binge drinking escalates during spring break, it can be a problem at any time of year. So can distracted driving, which is being called the new drunk driving because it’s on the rise whereas drunk driving fatalities in Texas have decreased over the last few years.

The worst culprit? Texting, because it requires using your eyes, hands and brain. Could you pass our texting and driving pop quiz?

In the video below, Matt Carrick, MD, Trauma Medical Director of Medical City Plano, talks about the dangers of distracted driving and says the best prevention is to put your phone down while in the car.

If spring injuries sideline your family this year, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

How to Keep Your Cheerleaders Safe from Falls and Injuries

cheer1-fbAlthough cheerleading wasn’t born in North Texas, it got here as fast as it could. In 1948, a Dallas SMU cheerleader named Lawrence Herkimer held the country’s first summer cheer clinic just north of Houston. There he developed his signature “Herkie” jump, the spirit stick and pom-poms — iconic cheerleading staples still used today. In 1961, he incorporated the National Cheerleaders Association and modern-day cheerleading was launched.

Since then, cheerleading has evolved from a sideline activity to include competitive events where the cheerleaders are the stars. With more than 3.5 million U.S. participants annually, cheerleading is the No. 1 female sport in the nation. But its large numbers of participants and increasing difficulty levels also make it No. 2 in catastrophic sports injuries. Only football ranks higher.

Common cheerleading injuries that can lead to ER visits.

Cheerleaders commonly experience injuries to their feet, ankles and legs. But they are also at risk for concussions and serious neck and back injuries, which can cause permanent disabilities. “Flyers,” the young ladies who are thrown into the air during certain maneuvers, are particularly vulnerable to these types of injuries.

Although cheerleading — especially competitive cheer — requires gymnastic ability, strength and a high degree of fitness, it has only recently been recognized as an official sport. Besides validating cheerleaders everywhere, this means it will now be subject to stricter safety regulations, which is a good thing.

Keeping your cheerleaders safe.

Since most cheerleading injuries happen during practice, it goes without saying that it’s crucial to have the right practice facilities, equipment, training and coaches.

Practice facilities:

  • Spring floors or 4-inch-thick landing mats on top of foam floors are best
  • Never practice on basketball courts or other hard surfaces
  • Practice area should be level, smooth, dry and free of dangerous objects

Equipment:

  • It’s all about the shoes: They should fit properly, have rubber soles and adequate cushioning and support
  • Make a good inVESTment: If your daughter is a flyer, consider a lightweight cheer vest, which may offer some protection from bruising and injuries
  • Safety harnesses can help when learning jumps and other advanced moves

Training:

  • Cheerleading is a physically demanding sport, so being fit before cheer season starts will help decrease the chance of injuries
  • Always warm up before practices and cheer events
  • Consider gymnastics or dance classes to help hone skills, build strength and flexibility and boost confidence
  • Prevent overtraining and overuse injuries by taking 2 days off per week for any single sport and 1 day off per week from all organized sports
  • Build on skills by perfecting basic stunts first and adding more complicated moves only when confident enough to do so
  • Make sure spotters are used to practice difficult, dangerous or new stunts

Coaches:

When injuries occur.

In cheerleading, even a slight injury can cause problems if it isn’t treated properly.

  • Any pain or discomfort should not be ignored, but reported to coaches right away
  • “Playing through the pain” can make some injuries more severe and require longer recovery times
    • This is especially true for head injuries and concussions
  • Know what to do in the event of an emergency; for example, should you call your doctor, visit an urgent care center or go straight to the ER?
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders: Cheerleaders, like dancers and gymnasts, are under constant pressure to stay thin and are at increased risk for body image issues, anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders

When a cheer turns into a cry of pain, one of our many Medical City ER emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter

How a High School Soccer Star is Beating Heart Disease

kendal-daniels-fb-2

Sometimes, the psychological effects of an illness are just as damaging as the physical. When a young soccer star was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia, she needed a different kind of team to get her back in the game — the adult and pediatric health professionals at Medical City Dallas and Medical City Children’s Hospital. Together, they’re helping her beat heart disease, but that’s just the beginning of her emotional journey back to health.

By sharing Kendal’s story, her mom hopes others will understand the importance of treating children’s minds as well as their bodies.

Unlike most incoming high school sophomores, 15-year-old Kendal Daniels couldn’t wait for summer to be over. That’s when she would find out if her heart is healthy enough for her to resume playing soccer — a sport she’s loved and excelled at since she was seven. In January 2016, Kendal was diagnosed with a congenital anomaly called ventricular tachycardia — an irregular heart rhythm she was born with but was unaware of until a cardiac event brought her into the care of Bruce Bowers, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Medical City Dallas.

As if adolescence isn’t hard enough, Kendal’s family had recently moved from Indiana, so her freshman year was also her first year acclimating to a new school, new teachers, new friends and, of course, a new soccer team and coaches. It was hectic, but Kendal breezed through soccer tryouts and by winter break was practicing twice daily with the team.

That’s when the “episodes” intensified.

Kendal would experience periods of dizziness, shortness of breath and heart flutters. When they were over, she would be exhausted.

“Kendal had been having these episodes — she called it loss of breath — for about a month,” said Andrea Daniels, Kendal’s mom. “But there were so many things going on — a new school, her freshman year, soccer tryouts and then two-a-day practices. We just thought she was stressed out and tired, so we would tell her to drink more water and try to get some rest.”

Any parent would do the same.

“We should have listened more closely to Kendal,” Andrea said. “She’s our middle child, just a rock. Our other girls couldn’t stand to lose a tooth, but Kendal is tough.”

Not long after winter break ended, Kendal was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework. Mom, I’m having that episode of dizziness again. It lasted about five minutes and left Kendal so tired she had to lie down.

“She got really flushed and her pulse slowed way down,” said Andrea, who has a medical background. “We took her to see Dr. Bowers the next day, which was a Friday. He said her EKG showed abnormalities, but it could be anything.”

Kendal was given a strap-on cardiac monitor to wear through the weekend and was told to skip soccer practice until the results came back. Monday at 4:28 p.m. — Andrea remembers the exact time — Dr. Bowers called and told her to drop what she was doing, grab Kendal and meet him at the Medical City Children’s Hospital emergency department NOW.

The results from Kendal’s cardiac monitor showed that she had experienced more than 500 beats of ventricular tachycardia (V-tach; a rapid, abnormal heart rate) and ventricular fibrillation (a more rapid and chaotic heartbeat, often resulting in death) over the weekend. Emergency staff immediately hooked her up to an echocardiogram and found she was in near-constant V-tach. She was admitted to the ICU and seen by a number of pediatric and adult specialists.

That’s when things really got interesting.

Kendal was only 15, so the children’s hospital was the appropriate place for her. But she was also 5 feet 9 inches tall and suffering from a condition that overwhelmingly affects adults over 40.

“Medical City Children’s Hospital was the exact right place for Kendal,” said Andrea. “She definitely needed a pediatric unit and would have had a totally different experience in an adult hospital. There are specially trained staff called Child Life Specialists who can relate to kids and have great compassion for them. They had animal therapy, played games and explained things in a way she could understand.

“On the other hand, the doctors who deal with this condition in adults have a lot of expertise. One reason Kendal was able to do so well is that Medical City Dallas has adult and children’s specialists. She was able to get the best care possible from both types of specialists.”

Doctors worked for six days and administered a myriad of tests to figure out the problem. They thought it was a congenital condition, but weren’t sure if it was one of two scenarios.

  • Worst-case scenario: Kendal’s weakened, enlarged heart was causing the abnormal rhythm – or –
  • Best-case scenario: The abnormal rhythm led to the weakening of her heart.

By this point, Kendal couldn’t get out of bed without having major V-tach. She desperately wanted to take a shower, and weighing the risks and benefits, the hospital staff helped her get cleaned up.

“That shower made all the difference,” Andrea said. “The hospital staff understood the importance of doing normal things and how showering and shaving your legs can make you feel better and have a more positive outlook.”

Good news followed the shower: MRI results confirmed the best-case scenario. Kendal’s medical team located the abnormality, decided the adult electrophysiologist, Rajeev Joshi, MD, would perform the ablation and began the six-hour, minimally invasive procedure. Dr. Bowers was called in to insert a heart catheter so the surgeon could better visualize the area. Once they started burning the abnormal tissue, Kendal’s heart rhythm immediately began to normalize.

“Hopefully, this will be a cure for Kendal,” said Tracy Laird, MD, Kendal’s pediatric heart specialist.

Recovery has been slow but steady. Kendal was given medications to regulate her heart and had to wear a “life vest” — a heart monitor with a built-in defibrillator — for two weeks following surgery. During that time, she had to miss school.

“The whole experience was really isolating for her,” said Andrea. Her friends couldn’t relate to her in the same way because she couldn’t do a lot of the activities. Between that and the medications, she was often tired and depressed. She’s really not the same person she was before, and it’s been really difficult. The operation was much harder emotionally than physically.”

Thankfully, the vest monitor and follow-up echocardiogram showed no abnormal heart rhythms and improving heart function. In June, she was tapering off her medications and wearing a new monitor that allowed her to swim and perform light exercise while transmitting real-time data to her physicians.

Meanwhile, Kendal found her own therapies — things she could do that gave her a purpose and that she was able to do with friends, including archery and adult coloring books.

kendal-daniels-fb-1

“She’s really anxious about her next testing,” Andrea said. “It’s like someone who has cancer and all they can focus on is the next set of test results. It’s been hard, because she didn’t really notice her condition until after the operation, and now it’s the main thing she deals with on a daily basis. But she’s hoping after the summer she can get back to normal activities, including soccer. With her heart condition fixed, she can be better at it than she ever was.”

UPDATE ON KENDAL: Kendal was released back to normal activity in time to make the 2016 JV soccer team! Go Kendal!

treat-the-hearts-of-texasDo you know how healthy your heart is? While heart disease symptoms can vary widely, it’s important to note that most heart attack sufferers had no previous symptoms. Take our fast and free Heart Risk Assessment today so you can know and manage your personal risk factors.

If you or a family member — regardless of age — experience any of the symptoms that Kendal had: heart flutters or palpitations, dizziness and shortness of breath followed by extreme fatigue, call 911 or have someone drive you to the closest ER right away. Medical City Healthcare has 17 emergency locations with FastERTX average wait times posted online. Visit FastERTX.com to find the ER nearest you.