An Exertional Heat Stroke Survivor’s Return to Running: An Integrated Approach on Treatment, Recovery, and Return to Activity

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context:

Evidence-based best practices for the recognition and treatment of exertional heat stroke (EHS) indicate that rectal thermometry and immediate, aggressive cooling via cold-water immersion ensure survival from this medical condition. However, little is known about the recovery, medical follow-up, and return to activity after an athlete has suffered EHS.

Objective:

To highlight the transfer of evidenced-based research into clinical practice by chronicling the treatment, recovery, and return to activity of a runner who suffered an EHS during a warm-weather road race.

Design:

Case study.

Setting:

Warm-weather road race.

Participant:

53-y-old recreationally active man.

Intervention:

A runner’s treatment, recovery, and return to activity from EHS and 2014 Falmouth Road Race performance.

Main Outcomes:

Runner’s perceptions and experiences with EHS, body temperature, heart rate, hydration status, exercise intensity.

Results:

The runner successfully completed the 2014 Falmouth Road Race without incident of EHS. Four dominant themes emerged from the data: predisposing factors, ideal treatment, lack of medical follow-up, and patient education. The first theme identified 3 predisposing factors that contributed to the runner’s EHS: hydration, sleep loss, and lack of heat acclimatization. The runner received ideal treatment using evidence-based best practices. A lack of long-term medical care following the EHS with no guidance on the runner’s return to full activity was observed. The runner knew very little about EHS before the 2013 race, which drove him to seek knowledge as to why he suffered EHS. Using this newly learned information, he successfully completed the 2014 Falmouth Road Race without incident.

Conclusions:

This case supports prior literature examining the factors that predispose individuals to EHS. Although evidence-based best practices regarding prompt recognition and treatment of EHS ensure survival, this case highlights the lack of medical follow-up and physician-guided return to activity after EHS.

The authors are with the Korey Stringer Inst, Dept of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

Address author correspondence to William Adams at william.adams@uconn.edu.