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Your Safer Summer

Emory Healthcare doc shares advice for weekend warriors and families on the go

Dr. Sara Raiser is a sports medicine physician at Emory Healthcare. Her primary interests include running medicine, gait biomechanics, and the female athlete. She is Co-Director of Emory’s Running Medicine Program, Associate Medical Director for the Atlanta Track Club Elite Development Team, and team physician for Emory College athletics. We asked Dr. Raiser to help us plan a safer summer. 

What are three must-have items for the family travel first aid kit?

First aid kits can be wildly comprehensive or they can include just a few essentials, depending on how light you’re traveling and the duration of your trip. Be sure that you plan ahead and prepare for the weather, travel delays, and any medical conditions that your family members may have.

  1. Carry a few items to effectively care for wounds. Clean wounds with hydrogen peroxide or a sterile saline solution. Cover wounds with simple bandages or gauze and tape. Antibiotic ointment is not a bad idea either.
  2. Don’t forget important medicines, such as EpiPens, for anyone in the family who may have an anaphylactic allergy (in which the tongue and throat might swell, causing difficulty breathing), as well as any other prescription medications for family members. These medicines may be needed urgently and could be hard to obtain while away from home, especially through holiday weekends when your doctor’s office is likely closed.
  3. During the summer, tweezers will come in handy when it comes to removing ticks while out hiking. Use bug spray and wear long sleeves and long pants to help prevent these bites in the first place! Tweezers can also help remove that pesky splinter that you get from walking barefoot on the dock at the lake.

With weekend warriors on the loose over the summer, how can otherwise rather sedentary people avoid injuries while playing during the summer?

Make sure you take a few minutes to warm up before jumping into a game of tag or racing your friends across the lake. Some quick calisthenics to wake up your muscles and improve flexibility may help to prevent muscle and joint injuries. Of course, staying active on a regular basis with a combination of cardiovascular and strength training, as well as time spent on flexibility, are the best ways to prevent injury. Wear proper attire - especially supportive shoes that are meant for the activity you are engaging in (i.e., don’t play soccer barefoot in the rain!). You should also get enough sleep and allow yourself to recover sufficiently after vigorous activity. The more fatigued you are, the greater the likelihood that you may pull a muscle or twist an ankle.

What are the most common visits your office sees during the summer?

Many injuries over the summer consist of “weekend warrior” injuries such as knee and ankle sprains, when folks are doing activities that are not part of their normal routine. My running medicine clinic also tends to see overuse injuries, like stress fractures, as many runners put in a lot of foundational miles over the warmer summer months in preparation for the fall race season.

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