Summer Injury Prevention TOCA Tips: Concussions

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Summer is a time to be outside and get active. Each year, millions of people in the United States participate in summer sports — from swimming, biking, and waterskiing to kayaking, rock climbing, and volleyball. These sports are thrilling and fun for all ages, but come with risks that sometimes lead to serious injuries. Doctors may describe concussions as “mild” because they are usually not life threatening, but the effects can be serious and you should know when to seek medical attention.

These injury prevention tips will prepare you and your loved ones to play safely.

1. Always wear a properly fitted helmet and replace it after a serious fall.

When wearing a baseball cap to keep your face shaded from the sun, make sure your helmet still fits securely on your head. And did you know that wearing a helmet while biking, skateboarding, or riding an ATV (all terrain vehicle) is one of the best ways to prevent a brain injury? It’s also very important to replace your helmet after a serious crash. Some helmets are built to withstand only a single impact, while others can withstand more than one — depending on the severity. Grass may seem soft, but trees, rocks, and other people aren’t.

2. Have fun, but know your limitations.

If it’s your first time doing a sport like rock climbing, waterskiing, or white-water kayaking, take lessons from an expert and use the recommended safety equipment. Learn the fundamentals from a pro, start slowly, and be patient. Know your limitations and make sure children do as well.

Young children should never play in or near water or bike on rough terrain without close supervision. And remember, everyone — kids and adults — need a life jacket when on the water.

3. Be familiar with your surroundings and stay alert.

Be sure to scope out the terrain before you start climbing, hiking, or mountain biking.

When boating on a river, lake, or ocean, make sure you know where you will put in and where you will be taking out. And if white-water canoeing or kayaking, make sure you know and are prepared for the level of rapids and other water conditions.
When swimming, never dive into the shallow end of a pool. This applies to natural bodies of water, too, like lakes, rivers, and quarries. When you don’t know the depth of a body of water, go by the “Feet first, first time” rule to prevent brain, spinal cord, or other injuries. Learn more.

Check the weather before heading out. And if you’re swimming, get out of the pool or lake the minute you hear thunder or see lightening and seek shelter.

Try to avoid crowded areas — on land or water — as you could also be injured when someone else does something irresponsible.
Stay alert and never wear headphones; you need to hear what’s going on around you.

If you or someone you are with does take a hard spill, be sure you recognize the warning signs of a traumatic brain injury. If the individual loses consciousness or feels confused or disoriented, call 911 or seek emergency medical help as soon as possible.

Finally, if you have a concussion, give yourself a chance to heal. Experiencing a second injury before the first one heals could have long-term consequences.

Signs of Concussion: Adults
(Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be subtle. Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury or may even be missed as people may look fine even though they may act or feel differently. The following are some common signs and symptoms of a TBI:

• Headaches or neck pain that do not go away;
• Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions;
• Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading;
• Getting lost or easily confused;
• Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation;
• Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason);
• Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping);
• Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance;
• Urge to vomit (nausea);
• Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions;
• Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily;
• Loss of sense of smell or taste; and
•Ringing in the ears.

Signs of Concussion: Children
(Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Children with a brain injury can have the same symptoms as adults, but it is often harder for them to let others know how they feel. Call your child’s doctor if they have had a blow to the head and you notice any of these symptoms:

• Tiredness or listlessness;
• Irritability or crankiness (will not stop crying or cannot be consoled);
• Changes in eating (will not eat or nurse);
• Changes in sleep patterns;
• Changes in the way the child plays;
• Changes in performance at school;
• Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities;
• Loss of new skills, such as toilet training;
• Loss of balance or unsteady walking;
• Vomiting.

‪#‎Recovery‬ ‪#‎Results‬ ‪#‎Relief‬

To learn more visit: www.tocamd.com or call 602-277-6211!
 

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Summertime Injury Prevention

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For those spending more time outdoors, the rise in temperatures could lead to an increase in injuries. Especially if you’re living in Arizona where temperatures are known to rise to some of the fiercest temperatures in the United States.

Every year from May through August, emergency rooms across the country see about an 18 percent increase in the number of people walking through their doors with fractures, strain injuries, and more.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior, recreational enthusiast, or vacationer, here are a few important tips to help you have a safe and injury-free summer.

  • Always wear protective eye-wear, gloves, long pants, and closed-toed shoes when operating outdoor power equipment. You do not want an eye injury ruining your summer.
  • Gardening shouldn’t be “back-breaking”. Bend your knees (not your back) and use your legs when lifting heavy objects. Many people have thrown their back out when making this mistake
    Before engaging in summer sport activities, take the time to stretch. This will loosen muscles, joints, and ligaments, as well as help prevent activity-based injuries. Summer is definitely the time when everyone is trying to get outdoors and be active, so stretching is really important.
  • To prevent overuse injuries, condition and strength train your body so it can become accustomed to increased levels of outdoor activity. Don’t run out there and go wild, make sure you ease your way back into things.
  • Consuming water not only keeps our body temperature normal, it also keeps muscles lubricated. When you sweat, your body is depleted of fluids, which can cause muscle cramps, so stay hydrated.
  • Take frequent breaks during activity – allow your body to rest and restore. Breaks will not only allow to you recharge, but it will give you time to enjoy all the great beach bods.

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Summer temperatures are on the rise! Heat-Related Illness

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Between days spent by the pool, enjoying your favorite outdoor activities and even your daily commute, it is very easy to become dehydrated. Drinking water and sports drinks a good start to hydration. Arizona is one of the hottest places on earth from May to September. Heat-related illnesses are common during the summer. Year after year, nearly 2,000 people visit Arizona emergency rooms because of heat-related illnesses. Some heat-related illnesses could even be fatal.

Preventing Heat-Related Illness

Your body keeps itself cool by letting heat escape through the skin, and by evaporating sweat (perspiration). If your body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, you might suffer from a heat-related illness. Anyone can be susceptible to heat-related illness. Those at greatest risk are children under 4, adults over 65, homeless people, outdoor workers, people who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications. Heat-related illness may be serious or even deadly if unattended.

Staying healthy during the summer is easier if you take the time to protect yourself by making sure you are drinking enough water and limiting your exposure to the heat. Follow these simple rules:

  • Drink water. Even people that stay mostly indoors all day should drink at least 2 liters of water per day. People that spend time outdoors should drink 1 to 2 liters per hour that they are outdoors. People that do strenuous activity outdoors should be very careful, being your body can lose up to 4 liters of water per hour during strenuous activity. You should carry water with you and drink even if you do not feel thirsty. Be heat safe and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella. Always apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein which increase metabolic heat.
  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Stay indoors when possible.
  • Take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on warm days. Take time out to find a cool place. If you recognize that you, or someone else, are showing symptoms of a heat-related illness, stop activity and find a cool place. Remember, have fun, but stay cool!

Signs & Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness:

When temperatures are on the rise, watch for the following symptoms:

  • Thirst: By the time your body tells you that you are thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated.
  • Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. They usually involve the abdominal muscles or the legs. The loss of water and salt from heavy sweating causes heat cramps.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is less dangerous than heat stroke. It typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Fluid loss causes blood flow to decrease in the vital organs, resulting in a form of shock. With heat exhaustion, sweat does not evaporate as it should, possibly because of high humidity or too many layers of clothing. As a result, the body is not cooled properly. Signals include cool, moist, pale, flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
  • Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high—sometimes as high as 105° F.

Stages of Heat-Related Illness

Heat-related illness usually comes in stages. The signal of the first stage is thirst. Drinking water at this stage can prevent you from progressing to the more serious kinds of heat related illnesses. The next stage is muscle cramps. These cramps can be mild or very painful. If you are caring for a person who has heat cramps, have him or her stop activity and rest. If the person is fully awake and alert, have him or her drink small amounts of cool water or a commercial sports drink. Gently stretch the cramped muscle and hold the stretch for about 20 seconds, then gently massage the muscle. Repeat these steps if necessary. If the victim has no other signals of heat-related illness, the person may resume activity after the cramps stop.

The signals of the next, more serious stage of a heat-related illness (often called heat exhaustion) include:

  • Cool, moist, pale skin
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness and weakness or exhaustion.
  • Nausea.
  • The skin may or may not feel hot.

The warning signs of the most serious stage of a heat-related illness (often called heat stroke or sun stroke) vary but may include:

  • Vomiting.
  • Confusion.
  • Throbbing headache.
  • Decreased alertness level or complete loss of consciousness.
  • High body temperature (sometimes as high as 105° F).
  • Skin may still be moist or the victim may stop sweating and the skin may be red, hot and dry.
  • Rapid, weak pulse.
  • Rapid, shallow breathing.
  • Seizures.

NOTE: Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if you are suffering from any of the above symptoms.

General Care for Heat Emergencies:

General care for heat emergencies include cooling the body, giving fluids, and minimizing shock. For specific heat-related emergencies, follow these steps:

  • For heat cramps or heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have the person rest in a comfortable position. If the person is fully awake and alert, give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or wet sheets or mist with water. Get the person into an air conditioned space if possible. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
  • For heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local EMS number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body using any means available, including cool water and ice. If you have ice packs or cold packs, wrap them in a cloth and place them on each of the victim’s wrists and ankles, in the armpits and on the neck to cool the large blood vessels. (Do not use rubbing alcohol because it closes the skin’s pores and prevents heat loss.) Wrap wet sheets around the body and place the person in front of a fan or air conditioner. Watch for signals of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

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Can yoga pose a problem?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]While millions of people have found better physical and mental health through the practice of yoga, downward dog could have a downside for your health.

Recent reports highlight some potential dangers of yoga, including the fact that more than 7,300 people were treated for yoga-related injuries in 2010, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The most common injuries included repetitive strain injuries and overstretching of the shoulders, knees, neck, and spine.

But when done correctly, yoga is an effective – and popular – form of exercise. So popular that the American College of Sports Medicine named it #11 in the top 20 fitness trends of 2012.

Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to help you practice safely:

  • Get clearance. Talk with your physician or a physical therapist before you start a yoga practice so that he or she can recommend specific poses to avoid or modify based on any pre-existing conditions or injuries.
  • Find a good fit. There are dozens of types of yoga, all with differing degrees of difficulty. Figure out which type will work best for you and then find a qualified yoga instructor .
  • Get more clearance. Before your first class, talk through any concerns with your instructor. Throughout class, ask your instructor for ways to modify poses that you can’t hold safely and strongly or cause pain.
  • Start slow. Yoga is not a competitive sport. Begin by learning to breathe properly and stretch safely. As your practice progresses, you’ll learn your limits. Don’t try positions that are beyond your comfort level, especially early in your practice.
  • Be a good sport. Just like other athletic endeavors, you need to follow a few simple rules, such as staying well hydrated, plus warming up and cooling down properly.
  • Listen to your body. Most important of all, be aware of how each pose affects your muscles and joints. Do you feel a sharp pain? Are you lightheaded? If you need to take a break, stop! If you think you might have injured yourself, be sure to talk to your doctor.

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TOCA Tips: Preventing computer-related injuries

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The computer is a vital tool in many different jobs and activities, for adults and children. But long periods of using a computer can increase your chance of developing an injury. Inappropriate computer use can cause muscle and joint pain, overuse injuries of the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand, and eyestrain.

Posture-related injuries from computer use

 Back and neck pain, headaches, and shoulder and arm pain are common computer-related injuries. Such muscle and joint problems can be caused or made worse by poor workstation (desk) design, bad posture and sitting for long periods of time.
 
Although sitting requires less muscular effort than standing, it still causes physical fatigue (tiredness) and you need to hold parts of your body steady for long periods of time. This reduces circulation of blood to your muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments, sometimes leading to stiffness and pain. If a workstation is not set up properly, these steady positions can put even greater stress on your muscles and joints.

Preventing computer-related muscle and joint injuries

Tips to avoid muscle and joint problems include:
  • Sit at an adjustable desk specially designed for use with computers.
  • Have the computer monitor (screen) either at eye level or slightly lower.
  • Have your keyboard at a height that lets your elbows rest comfortably at your sides. Your forearms should be roughly parallel with the floor and level with the keyboard.
  • Adjust your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor, or use a footstool.
  • Use an ergonomic chair, specially designed to help your spine hold its natural curve while sitting.
  • Use an ergonomic keyboard so that your hands and wrists are in a more natural position.
  • Take frequent short breaks and go for a walk, or do stretching exercises at your desk. Stand often.

Computer-related overuse injuries of the hand or arm

Muscles and tendons can become painful with repetitive movements and awkward postures. This is known as ‘overuse injury’ and typically occurs in the elbow, wrist or hand of computer users. Symptoms of these overuse injuries include pain, swelling, stiffness of the joints, weakness and numbness.

Preventing computer-related overuse injuries

Tips to avoid overuse injuries of the hand or arm include:
  • Have your mouse at the same height as your correctly positioned keyboard.
  • Position the mouse as close as possible to the side of the keyboard.
  • Use your whole arm, not just your wrist, when using the mouse.
  • Type lightly and gently.
  • Mix your tasks to avoid long, uninterrupted stretches of using the computer.
  • Remove your hands from the keyboard when not actively typing, to let your arms relax.

Eyestrain from computer use

Focusing your eyes at the same distance point for long periods of time causes fatigue. The human eye structurally prefers to look at objects more than six metres away, so any work performed close up puts extra demands on your eye muscles. The illuminated computer screen can also cause eye fatigue. Although there is no evidence that eye fatigue damages your eyesight, computer users may get symptoms such as blurred vision, temporary inability to focus on faraway objects and headaches.

Preventing eyestrain from computer use

Tips to avoid eyestrain include:
  • Make sure your main source of light (such as a window) is not shining into your face or directly onto the computer screen.
  • Tilt the screen slightly to avoid reflections or glare.
  • Make sure the screen is not too close to your face.
  • Put the screen either at eye level or slightly lower.
  • Reduce the contrast and brightness of your screen by adjusting the controls.
  • Frequently look away from the screen and focus on faraway objects.
  • Have regular eye examinations to check that any blurring, headaches and other associated problems are not caused by any underlying disorders.

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Patient Safety: It takes a team

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Safety is a priority for your doctor and the other healthcare professionals involved in your treatment. In fact, everyone involved — including you — has a role in ensuring that your medical care is safe and effective.

“Patient Safety: It Takes a Team” promotes the cooperation between doctor, patient, nurses, and hospital staff that is necessary for safe, successful surgeries. There are many things patients can do to become active members of their healthcare teams, such as:

  • Ask questions — be sure to speak up when you need more information from your TOCA physician.
  • Involve a friend or family member in your care.
  • Be able to discuss your medical history — such as past surgeries, major illnesses, and family history of medical problems.
  • Keep a complete, accurate list of all your medications, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements.
  • Tell your healthcare team about your allergies and any past reactions to anesthesia or medications.
  • Ask your doctor for educational resources to help you better understand your condition and treatment options.

Communication Is the Cornerstone to Patient Safety

  • Open, honest communication with your doctor and medical team will help you become better informed about your treatment and the expected results.
  • The more information you have about your health care, the better equipped you are to make decisions that are best for you.
  • Always be honest and complete when talking with your doctor. Information that seems incidental to you may be important to your doctor and medical team.
  • Ask questions. It is common to forget some things we want to talk about with our doctors. The best thing to do is make a list.
  • Speak up when you do not understand. If there is a language difference, or if you cannot hear or see very well, make sure you tell your doctor and medical team.
  • Know the best way to reach your doctor after hours, such as by phone or e-mail.

Your Office Visit

Your visit with a TOCA Orthopedic Physician is an important meeting that can be most effective if you plan ahead. It is important that you give your doctor the information he needs and that you understand what your doctor is recommending.

Come prepared. Write down your concerns about your condition, such as pain or loss of mobility. Make accurate written lists, including:

  • All your medications, including all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and nutritional herbal and vitamin supplements
  • Any surgeries you have had and when they occurred
  • Any family medical problems
  • All of your allergies (rash, hives, swelling) or unexpected reactions (nausea, drowsiness) to medications
  • Take notes during your appointment and ask questions if you do not understand something, such as the reason for your doctor’s recommendations, or the instructions for taking medication.
  • Ask your doctor for handouts or brochures so that you can learn about your condition and treatment options. Your doctor may also refer you to a website for more information.

If you have any questions regarding your care or medical condition, do not hesitate to contact a TOCA staff member through our social messaging, via email or call 602-277-6211![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Injury Prevention: Hiking around on our Arizona trails!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Warm weather and outdoor exploring are here. Hiking around on our Arizona trails, and even around our county parks, is great exercise and great fun, especially if you keep yourself safe and injury-free.

Before hiking, make sure that you are physically capable of going on a hiking expedition. If you’re suffering from arthritis or other joint conditions, check with a specialist to make sure you are able to hike. Longer hikes should be for those who are more experienced, while amateurs and less-experienced hikers should consider a shorter route.

Proper footwear

Start by making sure you have the proper gear for your hike. For shorter more mild hikes, sneakers may be fine. For longer more strenuous hikes, boots will provide better support and protection. While on the trails, make sure you are always aware of your footing, many trails contain loose or wet rocks and roots which can be dangerous, especially to knees and ankles. When coming down hills it is important to take your time, be aware of your surroundings and try to avoid stomping down on your feet. If you feel a funny twitch or a small pain, don’t ignore it. Take a break, and if you need to turn back do so before you create a serious injury

Packing

Planning in advance for your hike is the key to enjoying a safe hike. Check the weather, hiking in poor weather is not only messy but dangerous as well. Be sure to bring extra clothing including rain gear and warm clothing. When packing a bag, bring extra snacks, plenty of water and always include a first aid kit and map of the trail. For those hiking with previous injuries, it is always a good idea to bring extra braces or wraps. Hiking sticks or trekking poles can help ensure you have a sturdy foot while reducing some of the impact on your legs and feet.

Stretching/Hydration

If you have a hike planned, train in the weeks ahead of time. Don’t forget to stretch both before and after your hike while hydrating in the days before and during the hike. Many do not consider the possibility of dehydration which can have dangerous effects. After your hike, get the proper nutrition your body needs for recovery.


If you experience an orthopedic injury while hiking or any-other weekend warrior activity, TOCA is here to get you back to your life! To schedule an appointment call 602-277-6211 today![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Dr. Haber on Upper Extremity Injury

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Sports injuries occur often to children and adults. “Jammed fingers” may just be a ligament sprain on one of the sides of a finger joint, and these will heal over time similarly to a sprained ankle. Frequently however, the “jammed finger” may be a broken or a fractured phalanx. And yes, those two words do mean the same thing. If the fracture is in to the joint (intra-articular), then the magnitude of injury is escalated. The repair of these fractures frequently requires surgery, and the first 7- 10 days is the best window for maximizing the final outcome. The take home message is that these “jammed fingers” mandate an X-ray early in the course of injury. If it is just a sprain, a brief course of therapy overseen by a Hand Surgeon will return your athlete to sports in the best manner.

Wrist injuries are somewhat similar. There is a small bone on the thumb side of the wrist called the scaphoid or the navicular bone. It frequently is injured when an athlete falls on an out-stretched wrist. There will be swelling and limited, painful wrist motion. Unfortunately, this fracture does NOT show up on many wrist X-rays. Your Hand Surgeon is well aware of this, and a special radio graphic study should be performed. You may ask why a small fracture that is not easily found on X-ray is even worrisome? Well, the scaphoid has a very poor capacity to heal due to its weak blood supply. A simple non-displaced fracture evolves into a gap in the bone as areas near the fracture line absorb bone. One end of the bone may become avascular, the healing potential and return to full motion, may be lost. The answer is to find these fractures early and get them healed, which will not happen with continued use. These injuries are career changing if unfound.

The answer for finger and wrist injuries is an early visit with a Hand Specialist.

To visit a Hand Specialist at TOCA call: 602-277-6211

Learn more about Dr. Haber »

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New Year’s Resolution: Injury free for 2016!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Here it is, the oh-so-predictable New Year’s Resolution post about a “New Year, New You.” We’re going to bypass that this year in favor of something far more important. Whilst New Year’s Resolutions which center around going to the gym, getting fitter or putting more of an emphasis on our health are fantastic, we want you to spare a thought for your joints before you start a new exercise regime. Search online for “getting fit quotes” and the words that pop up most frequently are “pain”, “hurt”, “sore”, “skinny” or “burn”. Whilst some pain is normal and to be expected, this has given rise to a worrying influx in the number of sport-related injuries we’ve seen from athletes “training through the pain”.

Most sporting injuries occur from what we call the Terrible Toos- doing too much, too soon. After not working out for months or years, people come in and try to run 5 miles or lift 200 lbs at their first session. Their deconditioned, unprepared muscles can’t cope with the action and so injury occurs. We then have to recover from the injury by which point our motivation for our New Year’s resolution is gone. It is important to train properly and spare a an injury.

Why does injury occur?

Whilst some sports injury occurs through direct trauma- such as a rugby tackle, overuse injuries are more common in sports than acute injuries. These are subtle and occur over time, hence why early detection and diagnosis is key. Faulty movement patterns, joint restriction or muscle dysfunction can be detected by your chiropractor which can help to identify those who are at risk of an overuse injury and provide advice on injury prevention, modification of exercises, adaptations to technique or treatment if appropriate.

Researchers have reported that impact forces of up to 550% the normal force load are transmitted to our joints when running, with impact forces between 4 to 8 times higher than those during normal walking. Much as you wouldn’t lift a heavy weight without putting some thought into it first, we need to put some thought into how well equipped our bodies are to cope with these additional stresses and strains before we hit the gym. This is why launching into a fitness regime without putting some thought into how you’re going to do it and how you’re going to protect yourself whilst doing it can be crucial.

TOCA wishes you a happy, healthy and safe 2016![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Deck the Halls Safely!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Holiday decorations make a home look festive, but improper use can result in injuries, deaths, and property loss. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

Approximately 1,300 people are treated each year in emergency departments for injuries related to holiday lights another 6,200 are treated for injuries related to holiday decorations and Christmas trees

Here are some common injuries that can occur while decking the halls this year:

  • You could fracture your hand, wrist, ankle or other bone in the body if you fall off the ladder while hanging decorations. It is also possible to dislocate your shoulder or tear the meniscus (cartilage) in your knee.
  • Herniating a disc or straining a muscle in your neck or back while carrying big, heavy boxes of decorations.
  • Doing all the decorating in 1-2 days? This increased activity may lead to acute tendinitis in the knee or impingement in the shoulder.

Deck the halls…safely! Here are a few tips to help you avoid injuries:

  • When using a ladder to hang decorations, make sure you have the correct type of ladder for the job. Also ensure that the ladder is sitting on level ground and have a helper on the ground to hold the ladder if possible. Don’t lean too far to either side of the ladder. Move the ladder to the spot you need to reach.
  • When carrying heavy or awkward sized boxes and totes of decorations, make sure to use proper lifting techniques. Squat down to pick up the box instead of bending at the waist. Don’t rotate your body as you lift. Pick the box straight up and turn your whole body to avoid straining a muscle in your back.
  • Decorating for the holidays is not something we do every day so our bodies might not be used to running up and down a ladder all day hanging lights on the house. If you can spread out the decorating over a few days or week, this may help you avoid a flare up of acute tendinitis or impingement. Another idea is to have a helper to assist you with the decorations.

We hope you have a safe and healthy holiday season. If you do end up with a injury over the holidays, you can trust TOCA to take care of all your orthopedic needs!

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