The Friday Night Lights start coming on across Texas today as football practice begins for most area high schools, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Dr. Eloy Ochoa, a sports medicine specialist at TSAOG Orthopaedics of San Antonio, says athletic trainers and coaches are very well trained to detect signs of heat stroke, but there are some things that parents can do this first week of practice as well.
"You kind of want to keep an eye on your child, especially after their practice, for signs of getting overworked, fatigue," Dr. Ochoa said.
He says since it is always hot in Texas during the early weeks of football practice, football coaches are well trained in dealing with the early signs of heat related stress.
"Kids are nervous, they don't want to say anything, so you look for signs of dizziness, maybe problems with balance, nausea, and headaches."
Dr. Ochoa says concussions are always an issue and coaches and trainers are required to follow a specific protocol to deal with potential head injuries.
Also this year, there will be new rules in place to protect the health of student athletes. Football trainers have undergone 'stop the bleed' courses. While bleeding is usually not a problem faced on the football field, it is critical that it be dealt with immediately and properly. Teams must cease outdoor practice it the heat index rises over 104 degrees. There are also new protocols to deal with the hidden heart defects which lead to cases of young, healthy athletes suddenly dying during football practice. Also, for the first time, the UIL is requiring members of marching bands to undergo a physical before practice begins, just like football players.
Dr. Ochoa applauds this, pointing that band directors are not likely to have undergone the same rigorous training that coaches have to undergo in immediately recognizing heat issues.
The first week of practice means players will come home sore. So how do you distinguish between standard muscle soreness caused by intense workouts, and a sign of something more serious?
"The first few days, the kind of achiness that is normal, to be expected, is general soreness from building up lactic acid in the muscles, so its more of a muscle soreness."
He says if the soreness becomes a 'deep pain' in the bone or joint area, might want to give that more attention, because that could be a sign of a bone fracture, muscle tear, or other more serious problem.