Entries in Injury (9)


Risk for Illness and Injury Linger After Sandy

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's been a week since superstorm Sandy unleashed flooding, power outages and wind damage on the East Coast, and although recovery efforts are underway, doctors warn that residents are not out of the woods for new health hazards.

Mold Causes Breathing Problems

With flooding comes mold, and it can make victims sick even if it's invisible, doctors warned.

"Even if you're not allergic, mold spores tend to be irritating to the airways and can cause respiratory symptoms," said Dr. David Rosenstreich, the director of Allergy and Immunology at Montefiore Medical Center.  He said that an estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of the population is allergic to mold.

Dr. Christopher Portier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Center for Environmental Health, said mold can trigger asthma and even cause headaches when it's in a certain growth phase.

"Mold is going to be a serious problem unless you take care of it right now," said Portier, who also directs the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.  "It's very tricky to predict what's going to happen with it and the bottom line is that you really don't want it in your home."

Visible mold can be wiped away with a bleach and water mixture.

Portier suggested removing and discarding drywall and insulation that came into contact with floodwater and discarding items that can't be washed.  These include mattresses, carpeting, rugs and stuffed animals.

Bacteria Causes Illnesses and Infections

Floodwaters are dangerous because they often contain raw sewage, as ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser proved last week, when he tested a sample from lower Manhattan and found gasoline, e.coli and coliform.

But the health risk isn't gone when the water recedes because contaminated puddles and surfaces remain, Portier said.

People, especially children, can get sick by touching contaminated objects and putting their hands in their mouths, causing gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting, Portier said. They can also get infections from coming in contact with the bacteria with open sores and cuts, which can be "very difficult to treat."

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Back-up Generators

Superstorm Sandy left millions without power last Monday night, but already several people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of using back-up generators and coal stoves inside their homes without proper ventilation, according to the CDC.

"It's odorless," Portier said. "You can't tell it's there, and then you start getting a headache, lay down and don't get up."

Carbon monoxide poisoning affects red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.  However, the blood cells pick up carbon monoxide faster than they pick up oxygen, so when there's a lot of carbon monoxide in the air, they don't pick up enough oxygen.  The result is tissue damage from oxygen deprivation that can ultimately result in death.

Home Repairs Gone Awry and Other Injuries

Dr. Joseph Guarisco, the chief of emergency services for Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, said he saw it all in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina filled his ER with patients for months after the storm.

"It's going to be a new environment, and you have to be really mindful and that's the key thing," Guarisco said.  "There are dangers lurking everywhere that were not there before the storm."

For the first several weeks, Guarisco's patients ran into problems because they were evacuated outside their health networks and couldn't see their regular physicians or get their prescriptions.  He saw many patients with chronic issues, such as renal failure, who couldn't get access to normal treatment like dialysis.

He also saw hydration and nutrition issues, as well as patients who tried to ride out being sick on their own but eventually needed to see a doctor.  Some patients tried to eat contaminated or unrefrigerated food, and came down with gastrointestinal ailments.

Once that subsided, the home repair injuries started pouring in.

"As people return [home] it kind of evolves to a different nature of patients trying to put things back together," he said.  "They fall off the roof into standing water, lots of eye injuries from branches and debris.  Lots of soft tissue stuff."

He said people who had never used power tools in their lives suddenly felt compelled to use power chain saws, power drills and nail guns.  Many of them came in with hand injuries.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report Warns of Trampoline Dangers

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An estimated 98,000 trampoline-related injuries occurred in 2009, resulting in 3,100 hospitalizations, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  Head and neck trauma account for 17 percent of injuries.

While the number of trampoline-related injuries has steadily decreased since 2004, the AAP reaffirmed its position on Monday, advising against any recreational trampoline use.

This latest policy statement pulls away from previous reports, which regarded structured forms of trampoline use, such as competitive sports or for training, as risky as recreational uses.

In most cases, safety measures taken to reduce injuries don't work, according to the policy report published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.  Enclosed netting and padding have not been enough to significantly reduce the number of people who are getting hurt, the report concluded.

"There was a trend downward in the number of injuries, but it was the same time trampoline sales decreased," said Dr. Susannah Briskin, pediatric sports medicine specialist at University Hospitals in Cleveland and co-author of the paper.  "So we don't think adding padding or knitting to the frame is protecting against any injuries."

Also, most injuries occur on the bouncy mat of the trampoline, not on the perimeter or by falling off of the trampoline, according to Dr. Michele LaBotz, executive committee member for the council on sports medicine and fitness for the AAP, and lead author of the policy statement.

Even adult supervision has not prevented injuries.  Briskin said that in order for their presence to make a difference, adults needed to monitor how the trampoline was being used.

"We know that trampolines tend to be used in an inappropriate fashion recreationally," said Briskin.  "So using them for stunts puts someone at greater risk."

Children under age 5 are at the highest risk for injury, especially when there are multiple jumpers.  Almost 50 percent of injuries in kids less than 5 years old resulted in fracture or dislocation, not to mention the disastrous consequences of landing on your neck.

But a person at any age who chooses to hop on may be at risk, according to the report.  Jumpers are 14 times more likely to get injured when there is more than one person on board.

Of particular concern, according to Briskin, are indoor trampoline parks, which have gained popularity in recent years.

"There is typically always more than one user in those instances," she said.  "We have no data about the safety of these facilities."

Still, it's not known how much safer it is if there's only a single jumper, Briskin acknowledged.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New York, California Lead States in Injury Prevention

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to injury prevention -- with tougher policies on such things as seatbelt use, bike helmets and drunk driving -- New York and California lead the way, according to a new report released on Tuesday by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report ranks states on steps taken to reduce the risk of accidental injury, the country's fifth-leading cause of death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There are proven, evidence-based strategies that can spare millions of Americans from injuries each year," Trust executive director Jeff Levi said in a statement.  "This report focuses on specific, scientifically supported steps we can take to make it easier for Americans to keep themselves and their families safer."

New York and California scored nine out of 10 on a list of injury prevention policies.  Eighteen states lack primary seat belt laws; 29 states do not require bicycle helmets for children; 31 states do not require helmets for all motorcycle riders; and 34 states and Washington, D.C. do not require mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, according to the report.

"Seat belts, helmets, drunk driving laws and a range of other strong prevention policies and initiatives are reducing injury rates around the country," Amber Williams, executive director of the Safe States Alliance, said in a statement.  "However, we could dramatically bring down rates of injuries from motor vehicles, assaults, falls, fires and a range of other risks even more if more states adopted, enforced and implemented proven policies."

The rankings also reflect anti-violence and sport safety laws, as well as prescription drug monitoring programs.

While New York and California earned top scores, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington tied for second place with scores of eight out of 10.  Montana and Ohio ranked last with scores of two out of 10.


The report says state policies aimed at curbing accidents and violence pay off in the number of lives saved.  New York has an annual accidental injury rate of 37.1 per 100,000 people compared to Montana's 86.5, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The national average is 57.9 deaths due to injury per 100,000 people.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Foster, Colts Teammates Could Struggle Mentally After Gruesome Injury

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The Indianapolis Colts have a losing season on their hands, but that's not all that could be on their minds. The team's players have suffered multiple injuries in the season so far, including defensive tackle Eric Foster's gruesome ankle injury in Monday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sports psychologists say those injuries could take a toll on players' psyches, even on the ones who weren't injured.

Foster dislocated his ankle in the second quarter of the game when his leg got pinned and tangled under defensive end Tyler Brayton. He was taken out of the game.

Foster became emotional as doctors immobilized his leg on the field and loaded him onto a stretcher, and as he rode off the field, he pumped his fist in the air, rallying players from both teams and a stadium full of fans.

The severity of Foster's injury was obvious, both in video replays and based on the emotional reactions of his teammates. But sports psychologists say the mental challenges Foster may face because of his injury could make his road to recovery even rockier.

Dr. William Parham, a sports psychologist in Irvine, Calif., said a player's identity as an athlete makes injury hard to handle emotionally.

"Participation in athletics, especially at the professional level, is not just participation in a game. It's a part of who that player is. It becomes who they are and how they identify themselves," Parham said. "When somebody snatches from them the opportunity for them to express themselves through athletics, that can be devastating."

Psychologists say major injuries can bring up lots of questions for players about when and if they will recover and get back to playing. Those questions can lead to anxiety, depression, anger, fear and even guilt about letting down teammates and fans. And Parham said injured professional athletes such as Foster have an added burden -- worrying about how an injury will affect their job security.

Even after an athletes recover physically, they can still face lingering fears about their ability to perform. Daniel Gould, a professor of sports psychology at Michigan State University, said a full physical recovery may not be enough to prevent a crisis of confidence for some players.

"You've done all you could to recover, but until somebody takes a really hard shot at your knee or your ankle, and you can get up, you're not confident," he said.

Gould said athletic trainers treating Foster would probably watch for signs that he is becoming increasingly anxious or obsessed with his injury throughout his recovery.

Foster may not be the only Colt struggling with thoughts about his devastating injury. Offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo and Ben Iljanana both left the game with knee injuries in Monday's game, adding to a long list of Colts who are disabled, including quarterback Peyton Manning, who is out after having surgery on his neck. Parham said the team's healthy players undoubtedly feel the effects of their teammates' absences.

"When you're a band of brothers on a team, when one hurts, they all hurt," Parham said. "They'll definitely feel that missing link."

The impact of Foster's injury was apparent in his teammates' reactions Monday night. Several Colts players appeared to be fighting back tears, and a few circled around the doctors who were tending to Foster, offering him some encouragement.

Shilagh Mirgain, a sports psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said players who see a gruesome injury like Foster's may worry about their own vulnerabilities, even though they were not the ones suffering injury. But she said that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

"If the team has an opportunity to talk about and process what happened during that game, their reactions, and some of their own fears and concerns about injury, that can also allow the team to unify," Mirgain said.

In the season ahead, Mirgain said the Colts could even turn their negative fears into a positive performance.

"It's an opportunity for the Colts to commit to taking care of themselves, physically and mentally," she said. "They can still have a very successful season going forward."

Foster underwent surgery on his ankle Monday night in a Tampa hospital, and speculations are flying that the injury will end his season. But sports psychologists say a few things could make his recovery easier. Setting small, daily goals for recovery might help him feel accomplished, and leaning on friends, family and teammates for support can be essential.

The Colts' support for Foster was evident Monday night, as his teammates rallied at his side and fans roared when he was carried off the field. Mirgain said Foster's fist-pumping acknowledgement of this support is a good sign for his recovery.

On Tuesday, Foster sent a grateful tweet to his fans.

"Thank u all 4 such kind words. I thank u Lord in Advance. Women around the world gettn treated 4 cancer. May God have mercy on all o us."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pregnant in Heels: Is it Dangerous?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Beyonce take note: Victoria Beckham learned the hard way what happens when celebrities are unwilling to sacrifice fashion for pregnancy.

Beckham, who gave birth to her fourth child, daughter Harper, in July, has been seen sporting flats around town instead of her usual towering heels after she reportedly suffered a slipped disc.

The former Posh Spice, who has been known to tool around town in five-inch stilettos, wore high heels even in the late stages of her pregnancy -- but not without cost.  It's presumed that heels are to blame for her slipped disc and that she is now under doctor's orders to wear flat shoes.

If other stars have taken note of Beckham's predicament, they are not letting on.

After announcing on the red carpet of the MTV Video Music Awards that she was expecting her first child, Beyonce later rocked the stage in a pair of high heels while performing "Love on Top!"  At the end of her set, she opened her sparkly tuxedo jacket and rubbed her obviously swollen belly.

Stilettos for pregnant women are not inherently dangerous, according to doctors.  But when a woman's weight and shape changes during pregnancy, so does her center of gravity.  Because of this, she may be more prone to falls, which could have dire consequences.  Otherwise, a lot of the risk is to her own comfort.

Dr. Manuel Porto, professor and chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California Irvine Medical Center, also said that the arched back posture that is used by most pregnant women to accommodate the change leads to low back pain.  Wearing high-heeled shoes and boots can exacerbate those problems, especially as feet start to swell in the later months.

"Most obstetricians recommend that patients wear flat shoes or those with less than a two-inch heel, especially in the third trimester," Porto said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bamboo Stick Impales 13-Year-Old Playing Ninja

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LYNCHBURG, Va.) -- Dez Heal, 13, of Lynchburg, Va., was rushed to the hospital with a bamboo stick impaled his neck.

Dez had been playing a ninja game with friends and "decided to put the bamboo stick in the back of my shirt," he told ABC affiliate WSET-TV.

"I guess when he jumped, the stick must have went forward," Nicholas Blencowe, Dez's friend and ninja partner, told the station. "And when he hit the ground, the stick went in his neck."

Dez's father, David Heal, described to WSET how the stick pierced Dez's neck and came out about about three inches behind his ear. Heal called 911.

It might seem surprising, but when emergency room physicians see an impaling injury like Dez's, they don't rush to yank the piercing object out -- they leave it in as they take the time to appraise the patient.

"It sounds counterintuitive, but it's important to leave the object in place," says Dr. Abi Mehrotra, assistant medical director at the University of North Carolina Department of Emergency Medicine. Even if an object is impaled in the eye, don't pull it out, he warns. "You don't know what the damage is to the structure underneath. The object may be stopping the bleeding that may be happening."

Dr. Paul Pepe, chairman of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, agrees. "You don't pull it out. You do nothing" initially, he explained, because of the risk involved in extracting it. "If it is going through an artery, if you pull it out, the leak may explode," says Pepe.

Luckily for Dez, the stick did not hit an artery.

Pepe went on to describe the deliberate, painstaking ABC protocol -- airway, breathing, circulation -- that's followed for an impaling injury like Dez's.

"There could be abnormal breathing if the phrenic nerve is hit," he said, referring to the nerve that begins in the neck and supports the movement of the diaphragm. Doctors have to ensure that there is not a loss of circulation, and that the patient is not bleeding out.

A patient might be asked to wiggle his toes to see whether there is a spinal cord injury, Pepe explains.

Doctors use imaging, including CT scans, and possibly angiograms, to further determine the nature of the injury.

Only after a meticulous assessment do doctors consider cutting off the ends of the object and moving to "a very careful surgical removal," Pepe says.

By appraising the injury beforehand, a hospital can make sure it has the appropriate expert on hand -- such as a vascular surgeon if an artery has been struck, Mehrotra says.

Such accidents -- often shown dramatically on TV, especially in a famous Grey's Anatomy episode in which two patients were impaled on the same pole -- "aren't as rare as we would like to think," according to Mehrotra. He says he frequently sees fishing hooks impaled in skin.

Larger, more serious impalements happen to workers who fall on the job, and to those caught in tornadoes, Pepe says.

As a result he says, "We've got the drill down."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rafael Nadal's Risky Pain Relief at Wimbledon

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Gone are the days of secret locker room injections given on the sly to hurt athletes.  Since injuring his heel earlier this week, tennis pro Rafael Nadal has made no attempt to hide the fact that he is numbing his injury so that he can keep playing through the Wimbledon semifinals, despite the risk of further injury.

"My foot is not fine, but we are in quarter finals of Wimbledon, so it is an emergency.  I have to play," the Spanish tennis player said at a Wimbledon press conference Wednesday.  "We decided to [anesthetize] a little bit the zone of the foot to play the rest of the tournament."

Nadal slipped and hurt his foot on the court during his match against Juan Martin del Potro Monday, but this has not stopped him from advancing to the Wimbledon semifinals.

"Basically, when he twisted his foot, he put stress on the peroneal tendon on the side of your leg.  They're injecting lidocaine around the tendon to reduce the inflammation for each match so he doesn't feel the swelling," says Dr. Jennifer Solomon, an assistant attending physiatrist at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, who also serves as a team physician for the United States Tennis Association.

Though traditional wisdom dictates that an athlete should not continue playing on this type of injury and risk doing further or permanent damage, anesthetizing the pain long enough to allow a player to finish the game, or in this case, tournament, has become a common, if sometimes clandestine, practice among some professional athletes.

"I'm surprised they're telling the public.  It's frowned upon in sports medicine in general because you can get further injury when you're not aware of what's happening in the area.  Pain is a protective sensation, and without it you might do more damage," says Dr. Lyle Micheli, director of the division of Sports Medicine at Children's Hospital in Boston.

Normally, one would use oral painkillers, lidocaine patches on the injury site and ice to get someone through a competition, he says.  Because these methods allow a player to still sense the pain, they will know not to overdo it.

Nadal, however, says, that when he's undergoing treatment, he doesn't feel anything for five hours, which makes the chance for further injury higher, according to medical experts.

"The injection itself isn't a problem, but playing through an injury when he can't feel the pain at all, he risks restressing his tendon and [that can] lead to other problems, so you have to be careful," says Solomon.

But for a professional athlete who receives excellent medical care, the risk is minimized.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Summer Dangers in the Backyard and Beyond

Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/ Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With summer officially underway, now is a good time for parents to tune in to warm weather dangers to keep their children safe this season.

In a study released Monday, researchers found that during the warmer months, on average, one child drowns every five days in a portable above-ground pool -- including those small inflatable pools filled only with a few inches of water, as well as larger portable pools that can hold as much as four feet of water.

"Because portable pools are generally small, inexpensive and easy to use, parents often do not think about the potential dangers these pools present," said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, senior author of the study.

Keeping children safe around pools of any size means preventing access to the water by unsupervised children, as well as constant supervision when children are in and around the water, the study says.

But aside from drowning, children face many other dangers during the warm summer months.  Here's a look at some of them and what parents can do to protect their kids from harm:

SUN: Cover your children in broad spectrum sunblock before going outdoors, applying it before putting clothing on.  And remember to re-apply every two hours, and after going in water or sweating.

The FDA will begin regulating sunblock next year.  In the meantime, consumers should choose sunblock containing zinc oxide or avobenzone, according to Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician based in Austin, Texas, and co-author of Baby 411 and Toddler 411 guides.

Heat stroke is another danger on hot and humid days, particularly in the beginning of summer, before the body has had a chance to adapt to the warmer climes.  Make sure children are properly hydrated if they're playing outdoors.  It also may be prudent to look for indoor fun or shade play for your children during the hottest time of day, doctors say.

WHEELS: Many families pull bikes and scooters out of the garage when the mercury heats up, but whatever time of year, helmets are essential to saving lives.  Smith recommends parents make sure the helmets they purchase have the Consumer Product Safety Commission seal.

Helmets should sit level on the head, above the eyebrow line and straps need to be secure, said Andrea Gielen, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.

WEATHER: Lightning claims the lives about 300 people in the United States annually.  If a lightning storm is coming, head indoors.  Do not stay in an open space, like a football field or a golf course, where you would be the tallest object, Smith cautions.  Common wisdom still holds: Do not stand under a tree during a lighting storm.

PLAY: Prevent injuries with supervising children at the playground and by making sure the surface of the playground where your child plays can absorb impact during falls.

BUGS: During evenings and cooler times of day when mosquitoes are likely to bite, cover skin with a bug repellent that includes DEET, experts say.

For those uncomfortable using the chemical, Brown recommends looking for products that contain picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is approved for use in children ages 3 and up.  All three options repel not only mosquitoes, but ticks too.  She also suggests using a mosquito net over a baby stroller.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teens: Growing Pains or Stress Fracture? 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) - Some researchers worry that your teenager's doctor could be dismissing stress fractures from athletics as simple growing pains, reports WebMD.

Research suggests that such fractures are under-reported in teens, with a majority of the injuries occurring in those who participate in track, cross country, basketball, soccer and football.

''Parents should be aware, this is a problem, and it's a greater problem than people necessarily think," Andrew Goodwillie, chief resident at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, told WebMD.

According to Goodwillie, stress fractures occur when an overworked muscle transfers stress to the bone, resulting in small cracks or fractures. The problem is more common in girls than boys.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio