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When you finish this chapter you should be able to

  • Describe the physiology of hyperthermia.

  • Recognize the clinical signs of heat stress and how they can be prevented.

  • Identify the causes of hypothermia and the major cold disorders and how they can be prevented.

  • Examine the problems that high altitude might present to the athlete, and explain how they can be managed.

  • Review how an athlete should be protected from exposure to the sun.

  • Describe precautions that should be taken in a lightning storm.

  • List the problems that air pollution presents to the athlete and how they can be avoided.

  • Discuss what effect circadian dysrhythmia can have on athletes and the best procedures for handling this problem.

  • Compare the effect of synthetic versus natural turf on the incidence of injury.


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hypothermia hypothermia
hyponatremia acclimatization
circadian dysrhythmia SPF


Visit for further exercises to apply your knowledge:

  • Clinical application scenarios covering physiology of hyperthermia, clinical signs of heat stress, high altitude management, circadian dysrhythmia, protection of exposure to the sun, precautions of inclement weather, and playing surfaces

  • Click-and-drag questions covering heat conditions, clinical signs of heat stress and prevention, environmental conditions, and air quality

  • Multiple-choice questions covering recognition and prevention of hyperthermia and heat illnesses, inclement weather, sun exposure, circadian dysrhythmia, and playing surfaces

  • Selection questions covering hyponatremia, lightning safety, and prevention of heat illnesses


One of the primary responsibilities of the athletic trainer in preventing injuries is to make certain that the practice and playing environment is as safe as it can possibly be. Certainly no one has control over the weather. However, the potential dangers of having athletes engage in practices or competitions when adverse weather or environmental conditions exist cannot be ignored. Ignoring or minimizing the potential threat to the health and well-being of athletes who practice or compete under adverse environmental conditions can have serious legal consequences should a situation arise that results in injury to an athlete.

Environmental stress can adversely affect performance and in some instances can pose a serious health threat.47 The environmental categories that are of concern to athletic trainers, particularly those involved in outdoor sports, are hyperthermia, hypothermia, altitude, exposure to the sun, lightning storms, air pollution, and circadian dysrhythmia (jet lag).


Hyperthermia is a condition in which, for one reason or another, body temperature is elevated. Over the years, hyperthermia has caused a number of deaths in athletes at the secondary-school, collegiate, and professional levels.64

It is vitally important that the athletic trainer and ...

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