Benefits of a Certified Athletic Trainer On & Off the Field

University of Maryland’s Department of Orthopaedics provides state-of-the-art sports medicine care to athletes and active individuals of all ages on and off the field. Our sports medicine physicians and orthopaedic residents work directly with many of the athletic trainers in Baltimore County, Howard County, and Baltimore City to ensure the same level of care offered to the University of Maryland Terp athletes.

Michael Smuda, MSAT, ATC, LAT is a certified atheltic trainer/physician extender with the University of Maryland Orthopaedics.  As fall sports are getting in full swing, he explains how an athletic trainer can keep athletes of all ages at their best.

 

 

Q: What is an Athletic Trainer (ATC) and what can they do?

A: An Athletic Trainer, or ATC, is a multi-skilled healthcare professional that provides medical services and treatment under the direction or collaboration of a physician within their state statutes. Treatments includes injury prevention, emergent care, clinical evaluation of injuries, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

Q: Where do Athletic Trainers work?

A: Athletic Trainers are currently working within several different settings.  They can be found working in educational institutions like high schools and colleges where they provide support for all of the student athletes at their respective institutions.  ATCs can also work along physicians in the clinical setting, acting as physician extenders to improve the efficiency and flow of clinic, as well as acting as patient liaisons managing post-operative care. They are also working with the military and with other first responders to help keep them safe on and off duty. Additionally, Athletic Trainers work with all professional sports teams and are also working within the performing arts.

University of Maryland Athletic Trainers, along with our physicians, currently serve as the official medical provider of the Terps, and support Howard County Public Schools’ sports teams, in addition to providing care in the clinical setting.

Q: Why are Athletic Trainers important?

A: Athletic Trainers are the ones who quickly respond to injuries on the field or in the workplace, and have the knowledge base to appropriately treat critical injuries.  ATCs develop rehab and injury prevention programs for athletes and weekend warriors to ensure proper movement mechanics and proper form during sport and activity. They are able to diagnosis concussions and know the steps to follow to get that person back to activity.

The American Academy of Pediatrics demonstrated that having an Athletic Trainer available for student athletes helped lower injury rates, provide more precise and accurate evaluations and proper return to play outlines for concussions and other injuries.

Q: Are Athletic Trainers and personal trainers the same thing?

A: No, Athletic Trainers and personal trainers are not the same role. An Athletic Trainer needs to graduate from an accredited Athletic Training program and take a board exam in order to treat patients. While there is some overlap with the sports performance aspect of each job, Athletic Trainers have a wider scope to their practice, and personal trainers are focused on improving physical fitness and wellness in the lay population.

For more information about University of Maryland Orthopaedics or to schedule an appointment, call 410-448-6400 or click here.

Setting Families Up for Breastfeeding Success

Every day, at 9 am and 9 pm, the nurses on the mother/baby unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) huddle for what they call the “Milk Minute.” They gather to exchange breastfeeding tips and other helpful information. This quick, daily training encourages communication between day and night shift staff, and keeps breastfeeding best practices top of mind.

Why the emphasis on breastfeeding? It can significantly reduce infant mortality rates, as well as childhood obesity and related chronic diseases in adulthood.

Based on research, staff has worked to modify practices in order to change the breastfeeding culture.  Why? Clinical practices and processes have evolved to promote success in infant/mom bonding and breastfeeding. This includes skin-to-skin contact, rooming in, and educating moms on baby’s feeding cues.

Here are some changes you may notice:

OLD WAY BABY-FRIENDLY WAY
Historically, it had been standard practice for newborns to receive a lot of their care in the nursery – away from their mothers. This practice unintentionally created a barrier to breastfeeding and newborn care education. Babies spend as much time as possible with their mothers. In fact, within five minutes of delivery, the infant is placed on the mother’s chest. After delivery, mom and baby are transferred to the mother-baby unit and room in together. Almost all of baby’s tests and procedures happen at the mother’s bedside.
OLD WAY BABY-FRIENDLY WAY
During daily rounds, the mother-baby care team used to bring all the babies into the nursery (away from their mothers) for assessment. If the babies cried, they would be given pacifiers. The care team visits each mother and baby in their hospital room and exams take place there with mom and other family members present. This process takes longer, but allows for better dialogue and education.
OLD WAY BABY-FRIENDLY WAY
All staff members had basic breastfeeding training. Lactation consultants were called in to visit breastfeeding mothers while in the hospital. All staff members have received additional education and are considered breastfeeding experts. They are equipped to provide moms with 24/7 breastfeeding education and support. Lactation consultants are still available for moms who need more intensive support.

New parents are often worried about whether their babies are getting enough to eat during breastfeeding. Staff use the picture chart below to help parents understand that newborns have tiny stomachs and that breastfeeding allows them to naturally stop eating when satisfied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breastfeeding success starts even before baby is born. Doctors discuss infant-feeding choices with moms-to-be during their prenatal care appointments. UMMC offers free breastfeeding classes for women receiving prenatal care at University of Maryland Redwood office, Penn St. office, Edmonson office, or Family Medicine. Once at the hospital for delivery, mothers continue learning about the benefits of breastfeeding from nurses.

A breastfeeding support group is also available so women have the opportunity to discuss any challenges they’re having with a breastfeeding expert. The support group meets every Thursday from noon to 1 pm at 29 S. Paca St. Moms can also get breastfeeding help by calling the UMMC Warmline at 410-328-3512 or emailing their questions to lactationsupport@umm.edu.

The Stork’s Nest, sponsored by the March of Dimes and Zeta Phi Beta, is a program that provides education to moms living in West Baltimore. Mothers are awarded points when they attend classes, attend prenatal care appointments and adopt healthy behaviors like breastfeeding. The points can be used toward baby items such as diapers, a playpen, a breast pump, and more.

Learn more about breastfeeding.

Shock Trauma’s Violence Intervention Specialists Help Break the Cycle and Change Lives After Violent Injury

It’s heard in the news cycle pretty often in Baltimore – the victim of a gunshot wound or stabbing is taken to Shock Trauma, where they survive their injuries.

However, it’s NOT often you hear about what happens to these survivors. How are they recovering from their injuries, mentally and emotionally? What are our teams doing to help them get access to resources to avoid violent injury again?

That’s where Leonard Spain and David Ross come in.  They’re both Violence Intervention Case Managers at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.  Anytime someone suffers a violent injury and survives their injuries at Shock Trauma, they are seen by Spain and Ross.

Spain and Ross work to connect victims of violence with resources to get them on the path to success – including employment and schooling opportunities, mental health support, legal assistance and more.

Cut from the Same Cloth

Leonard Spain grew up in West Baltimore and, as a young man, was involved in the drug trade.

“The population that we serve – I was them. I sold drugs, I was a victim of gun violence and I spent time in prison,” Spain says.

That time in prison is what caused Spain to change his way of seeing things. When he arrived home, Spain realized the lack of resources available to help people like him get back on their feet.

He went to several career and job centers, attended job fairs and tried to do everything he could to stay out of trouble. After working a temp job for minimum wage for three years, Spain knew he wanted more for him and his daughter.

He enrolled at Sojourner Douglass College and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. He always knew he wanted to get into violence intervention and came to Shock Trauma after an internship with the Baltimore City Health Department.

When approaching patients at the beside, Spain focuses on building a relationship with patients as the first step of starting the case management process.

“I try to let them know I am just like them, just not out on the streets anymore,” Spain says. “Sometimes I gotta pull my shirt up and say ‘I got bullet holes just like you.’”

Poetry in Motion

Ross, also a Baltimore native, is a spoken word artist by trade.  He was discovered by the Shock Trauma team after performing at an anti-violence rally at Mondawmin Mall.

At first, Ross was a volunteer with the hospital with another friend.  By commission, he would come and talk with victims of violence and worked with the peer support group.  He then rose to his current position.

Now, when Ross learns of a new potential client, he will get background information on social media and online court records before meeting with them at the bedside.

“I’ll have that information in the back of my mind, but my next step is to speak and have a conversation with them and get their perspective,” Ross says.

Ross says he likes to ask the clients what they would like to gain from the situation and what they see as barriers.

“It’s not an easy thing to get them to trust you, and I understand that completely,” Ross says. “We’re usually asking them to change major aspects of their lives – and it definitely has to be broken down so we can work on one thing at a time.”

Usually, Ross starts with helping his clients get registered for health insurance so they can get their medication and get healthy. Next, they tackle employment. If it’s a criminal record holding the client back, they work to see if anything can be expunged. If it’s the lack of formal education, he works to get them in a GED class to receive a high school diploma at the least.

“I try to remove the obstacles to get them from point A to B,” Ross says. “Then, once we get them to point B, we see what other obstacles we can remove to get them to C.”

Spain and Ross both acknowledge that they are asking their clients to make massive life changes with not many resources, but overall, know it’s worth the trouble in the long run.

Spain is getting his Master’s in Conflict Resolution in University of Baltimore, and Ross is working towards his Master’s in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Learn more about Shock Trauma Center’s for Injury Prevention and Policy.

Birthday Surprise Lifts Spirits of Long-Term Cardiovascular Patient

Team members celebrate with Mr. Boyd

When a hospital stay extends past six months, it can be hard to keep a patient thinking positively. Especially so on special days like birthdays. So, when Mr. Boyd, who has been in University of Maryland Medical Center’s in-patient Cardiac Progressive Care Unit for more than 250 days, had a birthday coming up, the unit staff knew they wanted to do something special.

The team planned a surprise birthday party for weeks, raising money amongst themselves for decorations, food, and of course, a birthday cake. They also invited Mr. Boyd’s friends and family to join in the party.

On the day of the surprise party, the interdisciplinary team decked out the conference room with tropical-themed décor. They even put together a photo booth area. Social worker Sarah Downs explains, “We put together a photo booth with props and a background. I brought a Polaroid camera to take instant photos so we can put together a scrapbook for Mr. Boyd with pages from each of the team members.”

The team came together to purchase more gifts for Mr. Boyd, including a foot pedal exercise bike and a tablet; items that will keep him busy and active while in the hospital.

Mr. Boyd enters the party completely surprised!

After all the planning, the only thing left was to get Mr. Boyd to the conference room without ruining the surprise. Under the ruse that they were taking him on a walk outside, unit nurses brought Mr. Boyd to the conference room. Upon seeing everyone gathered in the room decorated for his birthday, he was truly blown away, repeating, “They got me good, they all got me!”

After the initial surprise, Mr. Boyd took pictures with the care team and his friends and family. He remarked, “Thank you to the team. They are all really special to me.”

Then, he began to list and point to the team members that he feels close to, but it became clear that he would end up listing everyone in the room. The surprise was filled with emotion, but the scene quickly became that of a party with excited chatter, laughter, and friends enjoying each other’s company.

By throwing this surprise party, the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit far surpassed expectations for a patient they have formed a special bond with. As interim nurse manager Julie Landon puts it, “He has really become a part of the family.”

7 Things to Know About Glioblastoma

News recently shocked the nation that Sen. John McCain was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. Dr. Mark Mishra, a radiation oncologist at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center and Maryland Proton Treatment Center who specializes in treating brain cancer, tells you 7 things to know about glioblastoma.

  1. How common is glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma is the most common type of primary brain tumor that is diagnosed in adults.  There are estimated to be nearly 13,000 patients who will be diagnosed with a glioblastoma annually within the United States.

  1. Why is it so aggressive?

Glioblastoma can be difficult to cure with radiation and chemotherapy.  In spite of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, the tumor most commonly recurs within the same part of the brain where the tumor first started.

  1. What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can vary from patient to the patient, depending upon the size and location of the tumor.  Symptoms include persistent headaches and nausea, speech  and/or vision changes, confusion,  personality changes, or weakness in the arms or legs.

  1. How is it typically treated?

The optimal treatment for a glioblastoma is surgery, followed by 6 weeks of radiation delivered daily, Monday-Friday, with concurrent chemotherapy.  This is typically followed by additional chemotherapy, for at least 6 months.

  1. Has any progress been made in developing new treatments?

Prior to 2004, there was no effective chemotherapy to treat glioblastoma.  A large study conducted in Europe demonstrated improved cure rates when patients are treated with an oral chemotherapy drug (Temozolomide) during and after radiation therapy.  Most recently, a large study also demonstrated improved cure rates with the use of tumor-treating fields after completion of radiation therapy.

Due to the aggressive nature of glioblastoma, we are actively conducting clinical trials at the University of Maryland School of Medicine to better identify ways to improve cure rates and quality-of-life for patients with glioblastoma.

Current studies that are open at the University of Maryland School of Medicine include:

  • NRG-BN002: A study to evaluate the role of immunotherapy for patients with glioblastoma
  • NRG-BN001: A study to evaluate the benefit of high-dose radiation therapy with proton beam therapy compared to standard radiation for glioblastoma patients
  • 1224GCC: A study to evaluate the role of low-dose whole brain radiation for patients with a newly diagnosed glioblastoma
  • 1344GCC: A study to evaluate the role of tumor-treating fields, bevacizumab, and radiation for patients with a recurrent glioblastoma
  1. Is immunotherapy an option?

The benefit of immunotherapy for this diagnosis is still being evaluated in clinical trials.  We are currently conducting clinical trials to help better determine if this is an effective treatment for patients with a glioblastoma.

  1. What is the prognosis?

A patient’s prognosis can vary depending upon the patient’s age, ability to undergo and complete treatment, as well as molecular alterations within with the tumor.  The median survival time for patients with a glioblastoma who undergo treatment ranges from 15-20 months.  Ten percent of patients will survive five years after diagnosis.

Learn more about the University of Maryland Brain Tumor Treatment and Research Center.

Sofia’s Lemonade Stand

Sofia Joslin, a seven year Patterson Park native and daughter of child life manager Shannon Joslin, has raised an incredible amount of money to support the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. Sofia decided that the day her neighborhood was having a large scale yard sale day (3 blocks long), she would use the opportunity to help give back to kids who may not be as fortunate as herself.

Sofia (left) and her friend pose with their lemonade stand they used for their donation to UMCH

From there, Sofia gathered up her friends and they began to play a part in the process as well. Sofia and her friends sold all of their lemonade and raised $250 which made all the effort she put in a positive experience.

After the fundraiser’s huge success, Sofia was determined to donate toys  of all different diversities to the Children’s Hospital.

She sought help from her parents who were quick to remind her there are all types of kids at the hospital: she needed to find toys that both girls and boys of different ages would like. The family headed to Target to maximize the most they could out of $250.

Staying true to her word Sofia went shopping and stuck to the basics. She set out to get dolls, craft kits amongst other items for girls, and Legos and cars for the boys.

After Sofia and her family purchased the toys, they were collected in UMCH’s red wagon and transported to the hospital. Sofia got to see her work go full circle when her parents took her down to the hospital to deliver the toys in person.

Following such a positive turn out, Sofia’s neighborhood wants to ensure that this is not a one-time donation. Inspired by the children’s involvement and by UMCH’s great care, adults in the neighborhood would like to make this a tradition and make even bigger donations going forward.

Many thanks to Sofia, her family and neighbors! Your continued support of the Children’s Hospital ensures we have the resources available to make every patient’s stay comfortable and fun.

 

Learn more about the Child Life Program and meet the team.  http://www.umm.edu/childlife

Interested in giving to the Children’s Hospital? Here’s how you can help. http://www.umm.edu/programs/childrens/services/child-life/how-to-help

 

 

Where to go During an Emergency

Asthma attacks. Broken bones. Dehydration. Ear infections. Irregular heartbeat. Infectious diseases. Uncontrollable vomiting. This is a short list of the medical problems that are handled each year in the Pediatric Emergency Department at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.

Children and adults have different needs. This is why the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital has an exclusively pediatric emergency department staffed by highly experienced nurses and health care professionals trained to put children at ease. What makes this pediatric emergency department unique is the access to a large network of pediatric specialists who make up the Children’s Hospital. We are a resource for other physicians. When a case is very complicated, we are often called to help diagnose or treat complex problems. We pride ourselves on delivering care and compassion that can only come from an institution with a primary focus on providing the highest quality of care to children and their families.

Because we have access to specialists in more than 20 areas of pediatric medicine, we provide the most advanced care. The Pediatric Asthma Program is one example of how patients benefit from the close collaboration of physicians in the emergency department and other specialties. This asthma program, which is the first of its kind in the region to be awarded the Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Certification, assures that children admitted to the emergency department not only leave breathing easier – they are also given the tools, knowledge and medication to improve their long-term asthma control.

During a medical emergency, there is little time to consider where to take your sick child. Remember the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital is here for you and your family.

Learn more about the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital by visiting www.umm.edu/pediatrics.

Men’s Health Month: Getting Back to the Basics

You know the type. The macho guy who’s rough, tough, go-it-alone, leader-of-the-pack, help-not-wanted. Macho man may put off seeing a doctor for a checkup – because he thinks he’s invincible, doesn’t get sick, it’s a waste of time, only for the weak.

Physicians at the University of Maryland Medical Center say some men only give in when they have symptoms, when major treatments are required, or when preventive steps are more demanding. Even so, it’s never too late to start on the road to health.

June, Men’s Health Month, is a great time to focus on preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men of all ages.

So, you’re out of shape?

Heart disease kills 1 in every 4 men in the US. One clue to heart health is endurance. Can you walk up two flights of stairs or four city blocks without stopping (barring traffic lights, etc.), or has there been a change in your activity level over the past 6-12 months? A man may shrug off the changes and blame them on being “out of shape,” but these changes could signal changes in heart health, says Michael Miller, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine, epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director, Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Dr. Miller: “If the answer to both questions is ‘no’ (presuming they have no other limitations such as joint disability, emphysema, etc.), then their heart is considered to be in reasonably good shape and no further workup is usually necessary.  If the answer to either question is ‘yes,’ then further questioning and/or workup is indicated.”

The paunch and the pound

Dr. Miller: “I ask men what their weight and waist size was when they considered themselves to be in good physical health (often in their early-to-mid-20s). If either their current weight or waist size exceeds 10 pounds or 2 inches, the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease begins to increase.  After checking for the major cardiovascular risk factors (cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes), we make recommendations aimed at improving their cardiovascular health.”

Recommendations: Eat a big breakfast or lunch with a light dinner, have a snack between meals, take a walk after dinner, and relax 30-60 minutes before bedtime to increase the odds of getting at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep.

All or nothing

Diabetes in men jumped 177 percent in the US from 1980-2014, fueled in part by weight gain and obesity. Shedding the pounds is often a struggle, but If your ideal, normal body weight is 180 pounds, and you’re 300, it may be unrealistic to set a goal of getting back to 180, says diabetes expert Kashif M. Munir, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Dr. Munir: “Of course, getting back to 180 is worth striving for, but to make differences that affect your risk for diabetes and heart disease, we’ve shown in studies that if you lose just five or 10 percent of your body weight, you can reduce those risks in a big way and improve your overall health, often within weeks.”

Exercise snacks. Diet is the main mechanism for losing weight, but the other side of the equation is exercise and doing more.

Dr. Munir: “What I tell people is to take exercise snacks. Instead of snacking on peanuts or cookies or whatever, do a 5-10 minute moderate-to-high-intensity workout. And if you can do that several times per day, all the better. Most people can spare 5-10 minutes here and there, so I tell people in the morning before you go to work, do a quick 5-minute jog, or something like that. At work, if you have a lunch break, go out for a walk, or get in some activity, and in the evening try to do the same thing.”

Lung Cancer: Put out the fire before it starts

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Maryland men, yet men tend to wait longer to seek medical treatment for the condition than women, says Gavin L. Henry, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and thoracic surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Dr. Henry: “Many men who are referred to us have symptoms, but the referral is often a good sign because it likely means the cancer is in an early stage when there’s time to take action. As surgeons, we always say ‘the chance to cut is the chance to cure.’”

Annual lung cancer screening. Low-dose screening CT scans have become the standard for detecting early lung cancer.

Dr. Henry: “We recommend that men get a primary care physician, get regular checkups and screening, especially for men ages 55-70 with a significant history of smoking, (greater than 30 packs of cigarettes a year), and those with a family history of lung cancer.

Quit smoking. 80-90 percent of patients with lung cancer have a history of smoking.

Henry: “If a man is a smoker, the best thing he can do for himself is to quit. Many of my patients know smoking is bad for them. But it’s tough, it’s a habit. We recognize it’s a struggle, and we try to help with a variety of smoking cessation tools and techniques.

A man’s a man, and all that

Prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in Maryland men after lung cancer, is one of three major issues in urology for men, including sexual dysfunction and prostate enlargement, also known as BPH. “These three areas can disrupt men’s lives significantly; the incidence really starts to go up when men are in their 50s-60s-70s,” says Michael J. Naslund, MD, professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Urology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the Maryland Prostate Center.

Prostate cancer:  Cancerous cells develop in the prostate, one of the male sex glands. There’s not good data on preventing prostate cancer, and since there are no specific signs or symptoms, screening is the best way to detect it early. If it’s found, there are many treatment options, depending on health, age, expected life span, personal preferences, state and grade of cancer and the anticipated effects of treatment.

Dr. Naslund:  “When a man gets to age 50, he should be getting prostate cancer screening that includes a rectal exam and PSA blood test once a year, along with a blood and urine check. If there’s anything abnormal, then he’ll need further testing.”

Sexual dysfunction: It usually takes the form of erectile dysfunction, the inability to sustain or maintain an erection.

Dr. Naslund: “There are many things a man can do to prevent sexual dysfunction: maintaining good physical shape, not gaining a lot of weight will lower the risk of getting sexual dysfunction later in life. Not smoking is key: that helps prevents all kinds of vascular disease including erectile dysfunction. Eating smart, exercise, don’t smoke are the things men can do. Those three benefit men in a lot of other ways as well. As for treatment, pills are the first option and probably solve the problem three times out of four.”

Prostate enlargement (BPH): Partially block the bladder, resulting in a weak stream of urine and frequent urination

Dr. Naslund:  “Virtually all men get prostate enlargement, when compared to young men in their 20s. I would estimate that half of men don’t have any effects from it. They urinate normally and it never becomes an issue. Men often ignore symptoms and may not realize that treatment, if required, is less invasive with fewer side effects than it used to be.”

 

Giving Back to The Hospital That Gave A Family So Much

Guest Blog By: Deb Montgomery, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital Parent

My daughter, Neriah, has had many varied health issues over the course of her childhood, including severe asthma, allergies, gastrointenstinal issues, and more. We have been blessed to have her under the care of several of the doctors in the Pediatric Specialty Clinic at the University of Maryland Childnre’s Hospital (UMCH). During the past several years, we’ve been through a multitude of appointments, testing, and hospitalizations.

As you can imagine, this has been really hard, and especially heartbreaking to see all that our little girl had to endure. Good care from doctors and nurses helped, but it was hard to keep positive and distract our sweet girl from all of the pain and discomfort. In some of the toughest medical tests and hospitalizations, we were introduced to the Child Life program.

Through that, she was given some toys and crafts to keep her busy, and distract her a bit from what was going on. It was such a help to have someone else “on our side”, trying to make the whole hospital ordeal a more positive experience for our little girl! When she got home from different times in the hospital, she would show her sisters some crafts that she made, or little presents she got to keep. She never told stories about the hard stuff, but she focused on those fun, positive memories! We really appreciate the positive memories that she has of the hospital, through the Child Life program.

It’s because of that, that we would like to help more children in the hospital to go home with some positive memories! We know how much it means to get some help at some of the hardest times. Our little girl loves to read, and we are having a book drive to raise money to buy Usborne books and more for the Child Life program to give to kids at UMCH. Usborne books are really engaging and interactive, and would really help to bring some joy to a child in the hospital. Usborne will match your donation at 50%, so we’ll be able to get even more books to the children! Click through the link below to donate to the fundraiser, to take part in giving some wonderful books to children in the hospital at UMCH!
Click here to support Provide books to children in the hospital at UMCH

What Parents Need to Know About Dry Drowning

Dr. Christian Wright is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and specializes in pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. Below he answers everything parents need to know about “dry drowning.”

What is dry drowning?

“Dry drowning” is actually an outdated term. These days, research and health organizations prefer to simply define drowning as a process where being submerged or immersed in liquid leads to respiratory impairment—that is, difficulty breathing. Drowning can be fatal or nonfatal. Sometimes a person can develop difficulty breathing after they have left the water, sometimes even hours later, and sadly there have been cases when children have died of drowning hours after being exposed to water.

In the media, a distinction is often made between “dry drowning” and “secondary drowning.” Again, these are outdated terms, but they do attempt to explain two physiological processes that occur in drowning.

When water is inhaled, it causes a spasm of the airways which causes them to close, which makes it difficult to breathe. This usually happens right after the water has been inhaled, so the person could still be in the water or they could have just left it. In the past, it was thought that in this way a person could drown without water entering the lungs, so this was called “dry drowning.” In reality, though, water enters the lungs in almost every drowning death.

When water gets into the lungs, it interferes with our lungs’ ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide, so oxygen levels in the body drop. Water also washes out surfactant, which is a substance in our lungs that prevents the small air sacs (alveoli) from collapsing when we exhale. This leads to pulmonary edema, or a buildup of fluid in the lungs, and difficulty breathing. A child could develop these symptoms up to 24 hours after exposure to water, and in rare cases this results in death. This has been referred to as “secondary drowning,” though it is really just the culmination of the drowning that started when the child was in the water.

How common is it?

“Secondary drowning” is rare, so there aren’t good statistics about how frequently it happens.

What are the symptoms?

Any time water enters our airway, our body has reflexes that kick in to clear the water. So a child could have coughing, gagging or difficulty breathing. Usually, this is sufficient to clear the airway. However, if water got into the lungs, the child could develop symptoms hours later. These include coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, vomiting, irritability or fatigue.

How does someone become a victim of dry drowning?

Any time water is inhaled, it could cause delayed symptoms. This could be after swimming or bathing or even after a short exposure to water like being dunked or the face being submerged in a puddle.

How’s it treated?

Drownings are treated by monitoring lung function and treating as necessary. A patient without symptoms may only need to be monitored. Patients with symptoms will need to have their lung functions monitored and supported. They might need supplemental oxygen, noninvasive forms of ventilation like CPAP, or a breathing tube may need to be placed. These patients will need to be monitored until their symptoms go away and their lungs are working normally again.

What’s the best way to prevent dry drowning?

The best way to prevent “dry drowning” is to exercise good water safety principles, including the following:

  • All children should be closely watched whenever they are are in or near water. Never leave children unattended near water.
  • Swim where there is a lifeguard, but don’t rely on the lifeguard alone to watch your child—continue to closely monitor your child.
  • Make sure pools are properly fenced and guarded. Fences should completely surround the pool area, be at least 4 feet tall, and gates should be self-closing and self-latching.
  • Teach teenagers the dangers of drinking alcohol while engaging in water activities.
  • Teach children to not roughhouse in the water
  • Enroll children in swimming lessons as early as possible
  • Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets
  • Learn CPR

To learn more about Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the Universtiy of Maryland Children’s Hospital, please click here.