Describe thermal balance within the body and the mechanisms of thermoregulatory control.
Identify environmental factors that influence the thermoregulatory mechanisms within the body.
Describe the thermoregulatory differences between men and women, and between adults and children.
Define the challenges faced when exercising in hot environments, and how the body adapts both acutely and chronically to these conditions.
Define the challenges faced when exercising in cold environments, and how the body adapts both acutely and chronically to these conditions.
Identify the differences between the major heat illnesses with regard to causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Provide strategies to help individuals acclimate to hot and cold environments.
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On August 20, 2008, Max Gilpin, a Kentucky highschool football player, collapsed during practice with a body temperature of 107°F (42°C). Three days later, he died as a result of what experts believed to be primarily heat illness. Although stories of athletes collapsing or even dying on the field surface from time to time, what made this story so tragic was that the boy's death was completely preventable.
Five months later, in January 2009, Gilpin's head coach was arraigned on a reckless homicide charge because it was alleged that he denied the athlete water throughout practice. In addition, a lawsuit filed by Gilpin's parents alleged that six of the team's coaches were negligent in their actions, because more than 20 minutes had passed after the teenager collapsed before one of the coaches called EMS.
Although the head coach was acquitted of the criminal charges, there are lessons to be learned from this tragedy. In fact, the team's coaches broke several of the most important rules of dealing with heat illnesses, some in terms of prevention and others in terms of their response.
How could a basic understanding of exercise physiology, thermoregulation, and heat stress have helped to prevent Max Gilpin's early and tragic death?
Max Gilpin's body temperature when he collapsed on the field was approximately 107°F (42°C), which places him in the temperature range associated with heat stroke. Although humans may be able to briefly tolerate this condition, a quick response is necessary to prevent death.
Because youth cannot utilize evaporative cooling as effectively as adults, Max Gilpin's age-he was 15 years old at the time of his death-likely influenced the speed with which his body overheated. Age is an important risk factor of which coaches and exercise leaders must be aware.
Denying athletes access to water-as Max Gilpin's coaches are accused of doing-is a serious error in judgment that coaches or exercise leaders can make, especially when working outdoors in a hot, humid environment. Without adequate hydration, an exerciser's thermoregulation processes will become ineffective and his or her ...
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