From the Frontlines: JuneJun 3, 2014
As the summer season approaches, the ER prepares for an increased workload. Emergency room physician Dr. Troy Madsen talks about injuries common to this time of the year. He also talks about the importance of wearing helmets while biking and when an ankle injury warrants a visit to the ER.
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Scot: As an ER doc, he has his finger on the pulse of what's going on, our health needs. It's Dr. Troy Madsen from University of Utah health care. From the front lines, what are you seeing a lot of right now, I suppose stuff to do with weather warming up?
Dr Troy Madsen: That's exactly what we're seeing. So the weather has gotten really warm recently, it's been beautiful outside, sunny. So people are getting outside and in the process of getting outside they're getting injured. You know this naturally happens this time of year, we just think of summer time as trauma season. That's because people are out on ATVs, you know, they're riding bikes, they're on horses, they're hiking, even home improvement projects, kind of spring cleaning, we're seeing all kinds of stuff with the warm weather.
Scot: I don't like ER doc calendars because they have holidays like trauma season. You know, it's nothing fun.
Dr Troy Madsen: You're exactly right. Yeah, it's a little morbid, our view on these things.
Scot: Is there any kind of commonality between all of those types of things? You know, variety of activities, is there one kind of injury?
Dr Troy Madsen: The big thing we often see this time of year is ankle injuries and I think that relates to a lot of people getting out hiking, running, rolling an ankle, so I tend to see a lot of ankle and knee injuries right now, but you know, we kind of see the full spectrum. Obviously once you're getting into more ATV accidents, biking accidents, then we see a lot of lacerations, scrapes, maybe even some fractured forearms from people falling off, so it's kind of the full spectrum but certainly a lot of ankle and knee injuries.
Scot: And is that a reason to go to the ER, an ankle?
Dr Troy Madsen: It's a great question, you know, I've injured my ankle so many times and you know I think a lot of us have rolled our ankles, we know how that feels. If it's at a point where you just can't put weight on it, that's a bad sign. So a lot of times if I roll my ankle I'm going to sit there for a minute, you know, make sure I can put some weight on it, try and walk it off, but if I just cannot put weight on that, that is a great reason to go to the ER and get an x-ray.
Scot: What about swelling? Is that an indication too, if it gets really swollen?
Dr Troy Madsen: It is, it's always tough because I've seen just massively swollen ankles that are just really, really bad sprains, but if you are seeing a lot of swelling there, you know, that is often times more of a sign that something is broken in there.
Scot: Okay, and that's the main worry. So it's a sprain or it's a break. It's those two things, or is there anything else?
Dr Troy Madsen: If it's a bad enough break, you can also injure the vessels and nerves in there, but usually in that kind of situation you're going to know it.
Dr Troy Madsen: Because those kind of situations are really bad fractures where then your foot is cold, you can't, you don't have good feeling there so those are more complications.
Scot: All right, anything else that we need to be aware of as we head into the warmer weather's trauma season, as you like to call it.
Dr Troy Madsen: Yeah, exactly. Well you know some things are just inevitably going to happen and we can't just stay inside all the time. We want to get outside, so things are going to happen, just be prepared. If you're out far from home make sure you've at least got kind of a first aid kit with you, at least the ability to call for help if you need it and take those precautions you need to. Wear a helmet if you're on a motorcycle, if you're on a bike, on a horse, just to prevent what you can prevent.
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