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Fitting fittness into your child's dayThere’s no denying it: American kids are getting bigger. In fact, the number of obese teens has tripled over the last three decades. If your kids aren’t getting the minimum 60 minutes of daily activity recommended for children younger than 18 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s time to involve them in some age-appropriate activities that encourage them to get moving.

For preschoolers
For children who aren’t yet school age, experts recommend “free play.” This means encouraging them to go outside and run around – with proper supervision, of course. Take them to the playground, teach them how to play tag and hide-and-seek, toss them a ball to chase, even if they’re too young to catch it. The point is to keep them moving.

Show your kids how to take advantage of the sights and sounds of the season. Organize a sledding party, build a snowman or make snow angels to enjoy the winter weather. Your little ones may even like helping parents clear off the sidewalks or driveway. This will help teach them that being active doesn’t have to be boring.

For school-age kids
Once kids reach school age, they can begin playing sports and become involved in other group activities. Younger children benefit from activities such as ballet and gymnastics or team sports like soccer and baseball. And if your children’s school offers physical activity programs, make sure your kids are making the most of them. If competitive sports don’t appeal to your children, encourage them to try activities like in-line skating or skateboarding. Just make sure they wear the proper protective gear like helmets and wrist guards. Also, this is a good time to begin thinking about ImPACT screening, just in case a concussion ever happens.

Also, this is a great time to consider participating in our Shapedown program. The program builds on the strength of the family while gently and effectively supporting families in creating an active lifestyle and a healthy diet. Parents learn skills to curb their child’s emotional overeating and sharpen limit-setting skills to prompt children toward a healthier lifestyle. Children accept more responsibility for diet and activity and feel happier and safer. Food becomes less important, activity more exciting and the child’s weight begins to normalize.

For tweens and teens
Older kids have even more opportunities to be active. Unfortunately, they have more sedentary distractions, too, like texting and video games. As your children’s independence begins to take hold, encourage them to choose activities they enjoy. They may want to get involved in school sports like track, basketball, cheerleading or football. Expose them to other activities like martial arts or aerobics. And don’t forget, fun activities like  dancing, jumping rope and playing Frisbee burn calories, too!

For other suggestions or to find out if your child is on track with growth and development, talk with your child’s pediatrician or other provider. And don’t forget, Shapedown is an excellent and cost-effective way to build a stronger child and relationship with your

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Late summer brings the kids back-to-school along with the heat and humidity we all dread. I look forward to this time of year because I love football!  As an athletic trainer,
however, I see the dangerous effects this heat can have on young athletes; this is especially true when combined with dehydration.

Heat and the AthleteIn a perfect world, young athletes would be conditioned year-round and use common sense to drink enough water or take a break when necessary. But, we do not live in a perfect world so, prevention and education are crucial. The goal of the athletic trainer is to prevent the serious effects of heat illness which can lead to heat stroke.

Causes of heat illness:

  • Over-motivation: Doing too much, too fast, for too long. To prevent it, start training early to give the body  enough time to adapt and increase exertion gradually.
  • Day 2 of training: The day after an exhausting and dehydrating day in the heat increases the chances of heat illness. Athletes should adequately rehydrate after practice and allow the body time to rest.
  • Combination of heat and humidity: Lack of acclimation to physical exertion in the heat can be burdensome on the body. Again, training should increase gradually. No one goes from couch potato to marathon runner over night!
  • Dehydration: Drink BEFORE you are thirsty. Hydration is important before, during, and after physical exertion. Remember to drink throughout your workout.
  • Non-breathable clothing: Wearing permeable clothing will allow the sweat to evaporate, pulling heat away from the body.
  • Extra body fat: Balance calories in with calories out, eat a healthy diet, and maintain an appropriate weight. The less weight on the body, the less strain on it. Being “fit” is more important than being “big.”
  • Poor physical fitness: Get at minimum 60 minutes of exercise a day year-round, especially if you are an athlete.
  • Supplements, especially those containing amphetamines or ephedra, can cause great harm to the body’s systems. Avoid them and if you have taken something, do not hide it from your doctor, coach or athletic trainer.
  • Medications: Some medications decrease your body’s ability to perspire or alter the way your body responds to heat. Know ahead of time any side effects of medications and let coaches and trainers know as well.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of heat illness (fatigue, nausea, headaches, excessive thirst, muscle aches and cramps, weakness, confusion or anxiety, drenching sweats, often accompanied by cold, clammy skin, slowed or weakened heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, agitation, decreased sweating, decreased urination, blood in urine or stool, vertigo, delirium, shortness of breath, hot, dry skin, rapid heart rate, convulsions, or increased body temperature), STOP PRACTICING and tell your coach or trainer right away.

Heat illness CAN BE life-threatening if not treated immediately. Know your limits and respect them, while working to gradually increase them. It will make you a better athlete.

Learn more about athletic training at Fort HealthCare

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Certified athletic trainers (ATC) do more than watch a sporting event from the sidelines or tape athlete’s ankles.  They are health care professionals trained to work in a variety of settings and with many different types of people – not just athletes.  An ATC collaborates with physicians to optimize the activity and participation of patients and clients.  Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis and intervention of emergency, acute, and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations, and disabilities. 

The area receiving media attention lately is athletic trainers saving lives in the form of concussion recognition and care.  A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) that interferes with normal function of the brain.  It can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body. The head does not have to hit something to cause a concussion.  A force transmitted to the head can be enough to bounce the brain and cause a concussion.

Parents and coaches are not expected to be able to diagnose a concussion.  That is the role of an appropriate health care provider.  Many high school trainers are not actually athletic trainers. They may be skilled in first aid, but not certified to recognize a possible head trauma.  The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) currently recognizes physicians and licensed athletic trainers as appropriate sports medicine staff.

Parents, coaches and athletes should be aware of signs and symptoms of a concussion.  Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Feeling foggy or sluggish
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in emotion

Athletes should never try to “tough it out” when experiencing concussion symptoms. If an athlete returns to activity before being fully healed from a concussion, he/she is at risk for a repeat concussion.  This can slow the recovery process and lead to long-term problems.  In the most severe case, it can lead to death.  Always remove an athlete from play if a concussion is suspected. 

Fort HealthCare offers ImPACT, a computerized neurocognitive assessment tool, which can be used to determine an athlete’s readiness to return to play after a concussion. Widely used by collegiate and professional sports teams, it’s the most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. Prior to a concussion, a baseline screening establishes an individual’s normal ImPACT score. Should a concussion occur, the test can be re-administered to assist health care providers in making return-to-play decisions. To learn more or to schedule a baseline screening, visit

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