Researchers with the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut set up camp alongside medical tents run by Falmouth Hospital emergency physicians to study heat illness at the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, August 17.
Dr. Douglas J. Casa and doctoral student Yuri Hosokawa led two studies at the race. The first tested a temperature device to record core body temperature, and the second was a heat acclimatization study looking at how training in different temperatures and humidity levels may affect performance and the risk of heat exhaustion during the race.
Ms. Hosokawa said that 32 people, 16 women and 16 men with ages ranging from 21 to 57 years old, took part in both studies. The researchers saw a difference between the temperatures recorded by the internal thermistor that runners swallowed the day before compared to the standard [rectal] thermometer reading. She said the data still needs to be worked up to better quantify the difference. They also tracked the athletes’ temperature changes for 20 minutes after they stopped running.
She could not report at this time any results for the heat acclimatization study because they are still reviewing that project.
The Road Race provides a valuable opportunity during which to study heat illness because it is 10 times more likely to occur there compared to other races, as reported in a 2014 article in the Journal of Athletic Training.
Falmouth Hospital spokesman Robin Lord said that about 80 people were seen at the medical tents during the race, a majority of them for heat illness.
Ms. Hosokawa estimates that about 20 people were treated for heatstroke with cold water immersion. A person suffers from heatstroke if their temperature is higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The ice water bath is an effective treatment because it brings a body temperature down quickly.
The research tent also had a visit from Kelci A. Stringer and her son, Kodie Stringer. Ms. Stringer started the Korey Stringer Institute in 2010 to study heat illness after her husband, Korey Stringer, a Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman, died from exertional heatstroke.
“Falmouth Road Race is the best road race to exemplify how immediate recognition and proper care can prevent exertional heatstroke deaths, too,” Ms. Hosokawa said in an e-mail. “Since our institute started as a strong proponent on this issue, it means a lot to us that we were able to show the Stringer family the scenes of the medical and research tent,” she wrote.