Andrews Institute Provides Cold Tubs, Cold Water Immersion for Area Athletes

GULF BREEZE, Fla. – Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine recently purchased cold water immersion tubs for area schools in an effort to facilitate access to effective cooling for student-athletes suffering from exertional heat stroke. A heat stroke can occur during exertion and athletes may experience a variety of symptoms such as exhaustion, severe muscle cramping, dehydration, high core body temperature, rapid pulse, dizziness, irritability, mental status changes, and other symptoms. However, the primary symptoms of heat stroke are elevated core body temperature and changes in mental status.

The treatment an athlete receives immediately following a heat-related injury impacts the overall outcome. Athletic trainers and physicians at Andrews Institute understand the importance of cooling within a critical timeframe.

“Exertional heat stroke is one of the few emergencies where transporting a student-athlete immediately is not the best option,” said Michael Milligan, M.D., CAQSM, a non-surgical sports medicine physician at Andrews Institute. “Unless a cold tub is not available, our goal is to get a student-athlete in a cold tub during a heat crisis before Emergency Medical Services (EMS) transports them. We want to lower the student-athlete’s core body temperature as quickly as possible and cold water immersion is the fastest method of cooling. With proper recognition of the emergency and swift management, a heat stroke is survivable.”

Andrews Institute and Baptist Health Care provide certified athletic trainers to all 23 public high schools in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties, as well as Pensacola Christian College, Pensacola Christian Academy and Chipola College. These athletic trainers work with coaches and administrators to help rapidly identify heat illnesses and provide access to tubs for cold water immersion.

“We work to train coaches on cold water immersion because while our athletic trainers are on campus at all the schools, a student-athlete may suffer a heat crisis while multiple athletic workouts or events are occurring simultaneously on campus,” said Dr. Milligan. “We want to ensure that the coach or athletic trainer has the ability to rapidly recognize a heat crisis, and that they can transport the student-athlete to a cold tub as soon as possible.”

While the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) recently mandated stronger safety education requirements for coaches and student-athletes, the vote to require on-campus cold tubs was postponed to June.

“It is a step in the right direction to provide more education and training for heat illnesses,” said Dr. Milligan. “I think that requiring all schools to have access to cold tubs is the goal, and I am proud to work for an organization that is already putting this practice to work on a daily basis.”

Dr. Milligan is a member of the Florida Alliance for Sports Medicine (FASMed), an organization that provides recommendations to the FHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. He is also the medical director for Andrews Institute Sports Medicine Outreach, the program that oversees the Andrews Institute certified athletic trainers throughout the area, and is the team physician for Tate High School.

Andrews Institute and Baptist Health Care are committed to providing sports medicine coverage at no cost to the area schools, parents and student-athletes. That committed coverage includes providing leading-edge sports medicine processes and techniques to ensure area student-athletes are receiving the best care possible.

 

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