January is National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month: Recognizing Head and Neck Injuries

Head and Neck InjuriesEvery year, throughout January, The Johnny OTM Foundation, along with the CDC, local urgent care centers, like eMedical Urgent Care, and surrounding sports clubs, work to raise awareness about common health risks related to participation in winter sports. Some of the common injuries related to winter sports include sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures. While all winter sports injuries should be taken seriously, head and neck injuries are especially serious as they have the potential to cause long-term health problems.

About National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month

It doesn’t matter if you’re five or 50, safety in the snow is important for all ages. The more you know, the more you and your family can have a safe and healthy winter season.

TBI stands for Traumatic Brain Injury. It’s a common result of head and neck injuries associated with winter activities such as skating, skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, sledding and tobogganing. The Johnny O Foundation along with National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month is a public campaign to highlight the dangers and importance of taking precautionary measures when participating in those sports. Their main goal is to decrease TBIs in the country.

Statistics on Head and Neck Injuries

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, each year, there are approximately 1.7 million head injuries in the United States. Commonly caused by falling or colliding into another person or object while skiing or skating, many of these accidents lead to head injures such as a concussion or TBI.

The top causes of TBI include:

  • Cycling
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Softball & Basketball
  • Water Sports
  • Soccer
  • Powered Recreational Vehicles
  • Skateboards
  • Scooters
  • Golf
  • Fitness & Exercise
  • Winter Sports
  • Horseback Riding
  • Gymnastics
  • Dance
  • Cheerleading

However, not all head and neck injuries are related to sports. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 30% of TBI causes results from falls. So, whether you’re taking the dog out for a walk on an icy sidewalk or hitting the ice for a hockey game, you could be at risk. But just because there’s risk, that’s no reason to lock up and put life on hold. Go ahead and head out to enjoy the New Jersey snow, just exercise caution.

Preventing Head and Neck Injuries in the Winter

Since falls are one of the leading causes of TBIs, take caution on icy surfaces: walk slowly, wear boots with good tread and pay attention to the surface you’re walking on.

Preventive measures, such as wearing protective head equipment, choosing helmets that fit correctly and following safety rules, can help those who participate in winter sports prevent head and neck injuries. New to the sport? Don’t be afraid to take lessons.

Proceed with Caution

If you suspect a loved one has suffered a concussion or TBI, it is important to take the injured individual out of the activity until he or she has been thoroughly evaluated by an experienced medical professional. We offer convenient walk-in hours designed to fit your busy schedule; learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

The physicians at eMedical Urgent Care want to remind you and your loved ones to enjoy the winter season, but stay safe by taking proper precautions during play.

Tips for Identifying and Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration

Some say, “By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.” Staying hydrated is very Heat Exhaustionimportant in the hot New Jersey summer months, especially if your body is trying to fight off an illness, if you’re engaging in physically activity, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

eMedical Urgent Care can help you understand and identify the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses, how to treat them and (most importantly) how to protect yourself and your child against the dangers of becoming dehydrated in the first place. So, grab your water bottle and read on to enjoy a hydrated and happy summer.

Dehydration

Signs of dehydration do in fact include the sensation of thirst and a dry mouth (cotton mouth) as well as dry skin, decreased or yellow urine, headaches and dizziness. Severe dehydration also can cause extreme thirst, fatigue, irritability and confusion. Since your body can lose fluids through sweat, urination, diarrhea or vomiting, it’s best to replenish before activity, at regular intervals during and continue drinking water after exercise.

Dehydration can be expressed as the loss of percentage of body weight. Scientists define dehydration as fluid losses greater than only one percent. Water is lost first from the blood, which is 90% water. (Dehydration can become fatal when 9-12% of your body weight is lost via fluids.) On the average, water makes up 60 to 70% of your body weight. Different cells contain different percentages of water, for example: muscle cells are 70 to 75% water whereas fat cells are only 10 to 15% water. Therefore, a muscular person will have a larger percentage of his or her body weight coming from water.

What is Heat Exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is a condition that generally includes intense sweating and an increased heart rate due to your body’s response to overheating. It is usually caused from a prolonged exposure to hot temperatures (especially when involved in physical activity and high levels of humidity).

Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Intense sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness / fainting
  • Significant increase in heart rate
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Sudden headache

Other Heat-Related Illnesses

In addition to heat exhaustion, untreated dehydration can lead to two other heat-related illnesses including heat cramps and heat stroke. Heat cramps are the least aggressive of the three and include painful cramps of the abdominals, arms or legs. Heat stroke requires immediate care and includes severe symptoms such as 104 temperature or higher, nausea, vomiting, seizures, disorientation, lack of sweating, shortness of breath, unconsciousness and could even lead to a coma.

Don’t Let Your Body Fool You, Stay Hydrated!

It’s even easier to dehydrate during the hot summer months when sweat evaporates faster and losing large amounts of fluids might not be as noticeable. According to the old rule of thumb, drink eight glasses of water per day (some experts recommend even more), but you also can quench your thirst by consuming hydrating foods (all of which are at least 90% water by weight) including: cucumber, lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, star fruit, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit, carrots and cantaloupe.

Replenish Fluids and Electrolytes

Remember, anyone may become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk. If you or a loved one experience any of the symptoms above, it is important to seek shade, rest and drink plenty of hydrating fluids. Extreme dehydration and heat stroke are medical emergencies that require immediate attention, possibly including a saline IV. Don’t ever hesitate to seek medical attention from the doctors at eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

Common High Heel Injuries and How to Prevent Them

OK, we understand fashion comes with a price and fancy footwear is one of the ultimate accessories! Sure, they look great…but do they really feel all that great? Sometimes wearing the wrong shoe can even be dangerous. So, although they may be stylish, it’s important to understand the risks and potential harm that high heels can cause. Stats show that high heels are one of the biggest factors leading to foot problems in women – with a third suffering permanent problems from prolonged wear. Thankfully, the emergency physicians at eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights and Middletown, New Jersey, can help you treat many high heel-related injuries including sprains and strains.

Injuries from High Heels on the Rise

Research shows that high-heeled shoe injuries have nearly doubled in the past 11 years in the United States. Sprains and strains to the foot and ankle are among the most common fashionable footwear complaints. Most injuries happen to individuals in their 20s and 30s, and it doesn’t take multiple studies to tell us that walking on high heels can cause discomfort in the lower leg, ankles and feet.

High Heel Hangover

The American Osteopathic Association states that one in 10 women wear high heels at least three days a week (and 1/3 have fallen while wearing them!). Heels can inhibit the movement of our ankle muscles and reduce our range of motion…and they’re also harder to balance. This day-after foot pain (“High Heel Hangover”) can cause all sorts of foot problems.

Ankle Sprains or Fractures

Ankle sprains and fractures occur most often when wearing high heels that are too tall and have a very thin heel. Foot fractures are pretty common in women who wear heels. Perhaps the streets are just a little too uneven and your new high heels aren’t quite as sturdy as you thought resulting in a tumble. Hopefully it’s just your ego that gets bruised—but did you know that falling in high heels can cause a misalignment in your mid foot, called a foot fracture?

Repeat after us: “higher is not always better.” When choosing the perfect heel for your night out, look for a shoe with a shorter, thicker heel.

A shorter high heel can be just as effective and stylish as a taller one. If you’re concerned that you may have fractured your foot after a fall, visit eMedical Urgent Care for an evaluation; no appointment necessary.

Chronic Back Pain

This may come as a surprise, but high heels do not fit the natural shape of your foot. Because high heels force your balance to the balls of your feet, your back has to make up for this shift in weight by throwing off your body’s alignment and adding extra stress and strain on your lower back. Over time, this can cause chronic back pain. Back pain ranks as the No. 2 reason people see a doctor but thankfully some of this pain can be prevented by simply choosing the proper footwear.

Don’t Pay the “High” Heeled Price

If you wear high heels day every day, it can take a toll on your entire body. But you don’t have to give up your heels completely, just choose sensible heels (1.5 inch or less) and a wide base to spread the weight more evenly. Your feet are literally your base of support, so if they’re not happy, nothing above them will be happy either! Consider an insole to reduce the impact on your knees, alternate your shoes from one day to the next and remember to take time to stretch your calf, leg and lower back muscles daily. And remember, eMedical provides great care when you need it (open 7 days a week, without the long waits and expenses) in two locations: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and Middletown, New Jersey.

Eye Safety Tips

The weather’s getting warmer which means New Jersey outdoor spring sports are in full swing. Whether your child is playing contact sports or just monkeying around at the playground, accidents can happen at any time and it’s best to be prepared with protective gear.

Baseball
April is National Facial Protection & Eye Safety Month

Every April, National Facial Protection Month strives to raise public awareness and remind parents, coaches and athletes to play it safe while playing sports. April is also National Eye Safety Month. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, tens of thousands of sports- and recreation-related eye injuries occur each year. It is estimated that up to 75% of sport-related injuries that occur involve the head and neck areas… but the good news is that 90 percent of serious eye injuries are preventable through use of appropriate protective eyewear.

Accidents can Happen at Anytime, Anywhere

Although our face structure is designed to naturally protect our eyes from injuries, unexpected accidents do happen. The risk of facial injury can occur in just about any sport (baseball, softball, cycling …even running) but are most prevalent in high-risk sports such as boxing and martial arts and even activities involving sharp objects such as fishing. In fact, the U.S. Eye Injury Registry indicates that fishing is the number one cause of sports-related eye injuries.

A study recently published by the University of Alabama analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a database of injuries treated at hospital emergency departments, and found the five most common causes of childhood injuries were, in order of frequency, basketball, football, bicycling, playgrounds and soccer.

Prevent Facial Injury

Calling all MVPs! Don’t take the fun out of the game; instead, play it safe during recreational and organized sports and help prevent serious (and painful) facial injuries with these safety measures:

1. Wear protective eyewear: Eyes are extremely vulnerable to damage, especially when playing sports. Make sure the level of eye protection is appropriate for the type of activity. Regular eyeglasses do not offer proper eye protection; eyewear with polycarbonate lenses that have been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials standards.

2. Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports: Mouth guards are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury, and dentists and dental specialists can make customized mouth guards that hold teeth in place and allow for normal speech and breathing.

3. Wear a helmet: Helmets absorb the energy of an impact and help prevent damage to the head.

4. Wear a face shield: Avoid contact injury to the face by wearing a facial shield. Hockey pucks, baseballs and racquetballs can cause severe facial damage no matter how old you are.

Get Immediate Attention

At eMedical Urgent Care, we provide immediate care for a variety of medical needs including minor injuries from foreign objects in the eyes, ears and nose. After work, or on weekends, we‘re here. Our convenient hours are designed to fit your schedule.

Fall Sports: How to Recognize a Concussion

Blue Football HelmetIt’s a brisk fall afternoon. You’re sitting in the bleachers, watching your son’s JV football game. In the scuffle during a play he hits his head on the turf. You see him get up a bit slowly, but he shakes it off and lines up for the next play. Should you be concerned?

It is estimated there are 3 million head injuries each year related to contact sports, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For teens and young adults aged 15 to 24 years, it is second only to motor vehicle accidents as the cause of traumatic brain injuries.

Concussions can be caused by mild or more severe blows to the head. They may or may not involve loss of consciousness. Recently, more attention has been placed on recognizing and treating concussions earlier to decrease the risk of long-term neurological damage.

The Signs of a Concussion
Early signs of a concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Vision changes
  • Unequally sized pupils
  • Lack of awareness of surroundings
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Lack of coordination

If your child is injured and shows any of the above signs, he or she should stop participating in the sports activity immediately. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association requires that any student athlete who sustains a possible concussion or any loss of consciousness be removed immediately from play. A medical evaluation is required to determine if a concussion was sustained. If it’s determined that your child did have a concussion, he or she must be symptom-free for one week before he or she can return to play.

You should seek immediate medical attention if your child’s symptoms persist for more than 10 minutes. If the symptoms are mild, such as mild headache, dizziness, nausea without vomiting or loss of memory for a few minutes, watch to see if the symptoms worsen. The physicians at eMedical Urgent Care can help determine if further care is needed.

When to Go to the Emergency Department
You should bring your child to the nearest emergency department if the injury involves:

  • Large cuts
  • Prolonged loss of consciousness
  • Severe headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Inability to walk
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures

What to Expect After a Concussion
A few days to a few weeks after having a concussion your child might experience:

  • A persistent, low-grade headache
  • Light-headedness
  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Memory issues
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety and/or a depressed mood
  • Trouble sleeping

The recovery period for concussions can vary from patient to patient. Some may develop “post-concussion syndrome,” which can last weeks or months and includes chronic headaches, dizziness and nausea.  If your child sustains a more severe concussion, he or she should be seen by a neurologist in addition to your primary physician to manage ongoing care.