Month: October 2017

Paving the Way for Heat Safety in Athletes, Warfighters, and Laborers

Yuri Hosokawa, PhD, ATC

Vice President of Communication and Vice President of Education


Every October, members of KSI travel to Washington D.C. to volunteer at the Marine Corps Marathon medical tent. This year’s trip was also a special one because we were able to continue our efforts from last year in building relationships and exchange ideas with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).


On Thursday, October 19th, KSI had the honor of gathering representatives from federal sectors that regulate heat activity modification guidelines or study implications of heat in the welfare of warfighters and laborers. The meeting was sponsored by the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS:, whose mission is to understand global health threat from extreme heat, develop a robust and science-informed response, and build capacity and communication networks to improve resilience. Participating agencies of NIHHIS include: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NIOSH, NOAA, OSHA, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


KSI has a good history in working collaboratively with the occupational and military sectors, however, it was not until last year that we were able to gather representatives from all three sectors– athletic, occupational, and military­– to convene at single location and exchange ideas for future collaborations. Integration of climate and weather data from NOAA is also critical in making data driven decision to enhance the policies and guidelines for the people in these settings who are often exposed to extreme heat. Participants of this year’s meeting are currently working on a manuscript that gathers current consensus regarding heat activity modification guidelines for the physically active population (athletes, warfighters, and laborers), which we hope to release next year.



On the following day, we attended the IIRM Sports Medicine Conference hosted by the International Institute for Race Medicine, MedStar Sports Medicine, and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network. The meeting was attended by many medical providers and students who were also volunteering at the Marine Corps Marathon. At the meeting, Dr. Douglas Casa gave a presentation regarding wearable technologies in sport. Despite the recent advancement in wearable technology, his presentation warned that there is yet to be reliable, real-time, noninvasive hydration and internal body temperature assessment devices on the market. As the field of wearable technology continues to grow, researchers and clinicians must stay up-to-date with the technology advancement while also acknowledging the technological limitations to make the best-informed decisions about using data from these devices.



Later in the afternoon of the conference, we also participated in a workshop that was designed to review various treatment algorithms for medical conditions commonly seen at race medical tents in the form of problem-based-learning scenarios.  Exercise-associated collapse, cardiovascular arrest, exertional heat stroke, exertional hyponatremia, exercise associated muscle cramping and bleeding-control were covered in the workshop, all lead by the content experts. The hands-on workshop provided opportunities for young professionals to practice the skills for the first time and stimulated the exchange of various experiences from the veteran providers.



KSI was stationed at the Aid Station 9 on the day of the race, which was located between mile-21 and 22. The wet bulb globe temperature reading one-hour past the start of the race was in the mid-60’s, but quickly reached the high 70’s by noon, placing this year’s race as one of the warmer race in the history of the Marine Corps Marathon. The coordination of work among the corpsmen, athletic trainers, nurses, physical therapists, and physicians at the aid station was great. We also treated several exertional heat stroke patients on-site, where we made sure to cool the patients below 39°C before transport.


Our trip to Washington D.C. is a true demonstration of our mission statement– to provide research, education, advocacy and consultation to maximize performance, optimize safety and prevent sudden death for the athlete, warfighter and laborer. Whether we are treating marathon runners from exertional heat stroke or optimizing the regulations for worker safety in the heat, the physiological premise and impact of exertional heat stress is the “same” across athletes, warfighters, and laborers. Integration of minds across disciplines, such as the NIHHIS meeting, and continued advocacy to provide evidence based exertional heat stroke care are some of the core missions we will continue to carry forward from KSI.  #Strive2Protect

CamelBak Elite Athlete Testing

Gabe Giersch, MS

Associate Director of Education and Assistant Director of Athlete Performance and Safety

KSI had the awesome, unique opportunity to test two CamelBak sponsored pro-athletes over

the course of two days! The athletes were Lea Davison, a two-time Olympian Mountain Biker (2012 & 2016), and Gediminas Grinius a decorated Lithuanian trail runner. Some very fit, athletically decorated media personnel underwent testing as well. The athletes were able to undergo heat and sweat testing, where they exercised for 60-minutes total. Because it was a hot environment, the athletes were asked to collect their sweat in a specially prepared towel,and atthe end of their hour, we didwhole-body wash downs to collect samples to assess their sweat electrolyte concentrations. Whole-body wash downs are the gold standard for assessing whole-body sweat electrolyte concentration and very few labs across the country still use this technique. Many have moved over to local collection in sweat pouches, which is a great method of assessing local sweat, but not necessarily valid for whole-body calculations.

The athletes were also able to complete an anaerobic threshold test or a VO2max test where we tested their ability to ward-off an accumulation of lactate (a by-product of anaerobic metabolism) where we could extrapolate their anaerobic threshold based on continual readings, or their maximal oxygen uptake by exercising until volitional fatigue, respectively. This was a great opportunity for KSI and allowed us to use our expertise to interact with some incredible athletes.

The UConn Heat Lab Tests Pro Athletes Under Extreme Conditions (Hartford Courant)

Crouched in a bucket inside UConn’s heat lab, Ironman triathlon finisher Adam Chase brushed water and sweat from his body as a researcher poured water over his head.

Three other researchers held high the plastic tarp that lined the bucket and would catch every drop falling from Chase, 51. Moments later, they tossed in the towels he’d just used to mop his face and back as he ran for 45 minutes at a 7-mph clip in the 94-degree room.

“Sweat soup,” one athlete said as she waited for her turn inside the Korey Stringer Institute’s new, $700,000 heat lab.

This salty concoction is what the University of Connecticut kinesiologists would weigh and test to determine how much Chase had sweat during his sweltering workout, how many electrolytes he’d lost and other metrics he might be able to use to improve his performance and lessen the risks of heat stroke from extreme exertion.

“It’s not half as glamorous as it sounds,” Luke Belval, director of research, joked after describing the process.

The same can’t be said for the lab itself, a 450-square-foot facility that opened Sept. 22 in Gampel Pavilion. After a three-year process, the Korey Stringer Institute unveiled a major upgrade made possible by $350,000 from UConn, $100,000 from Mission Athletecare – an active wear and thermo-regulation technology company that secured the lab’s naming rights – and other donors like the NFL.

The lab’s chamber includes $20,000 treadmills, a cold-water immersion tub, strong air flow that mimics the outdoors and a climate-controlled bathroom. It simulates balmy and humid conditions for athletes who come to UConn for hours-long sessions.

In temperatures that can reach 110 degrees and 90 percent humidity, researchers work with NFL and NCAA teams, the military and apparel companies to analyze the human body’s response to extreme conditions.

On the recent Thursday when the lab studied Chase, of Colorado, it also drew professional athletes who’d traveled to Storrs from Vermont, northern California and Lithuania.

And the lab’s reputation precedes its new digs. UConn researchers have been studying the effects of heat and humidity on exertion for 25 years, since Gampel was newly built and the heat lab inside of it was no bigger than a dorm room..

Researchers would control humidity by toggling between household humidifiers and dehumidifiers. They removed ceiling tiles above the treadmills to accommodate taller athletes.

At some point, someone slapped a sticker that reads, “FUN ZONE,” above the entrance to the lab.

“I’m sure in 1999, it was state of the art,” said Robert Huggins, the institute’s vice president of research and athlete performance and safety.

Even so, it was with that lab that the Korey Stringer Institute was founded in 2010 by its CEO, Doug Casa, UConn’s director of athletic training education.

He and the family of Korey Stringer, the Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle who died from exertional heat stroke in 2001, hoped with research and education, they could maximize athletic performance and save lives.

Since then, the institute has helped demonstrate that deaths like Stringer’s are preventable with quick, correct treatment – like the kind staff members provided while doing case studies of Falmouth Road Races in Massachusetts.

The lab has studied the effects of cold water immersion and cooling tarps, hydration and caffeination, humidity and sleep.

And it opened its doors to not only athletes – and, naturally, research participants – but people who’ve already suffered heat stroke as well as laborers and military members who want to prepare for hot and humid conditions.

“It was a basic facility we were able to do some cool things in,” Casa said of the old lab. “But this one really ups our ability to help athletes, warfighters and laborers who have to do intense work in the heat.”

“The potential for research and service for people who need help is greater than it’s ever been before.”

Over the course of three years, Casa sought ideas for the new Korey Stringer Institute by visiting high-end heat labs across North America, like the Nike Sport Research Lab in Portland and facilities at the University of Arkansas and University of Ottowa.

He says he borrowed the best features he could find and added some more. This winter, the lab will install radiant heat lamps to mimic the effects of sunlight and cloudy skies.

But already, the weeks-old lab is getting plenty of traffic on campus.

UConn students are not charged to use the facility like typical clients, and the women’s cross country team has taken to using the equipment a few times a week, as Chase, the professional ultrarunner, and Lea Davison, a two-time U.S. Olympian mountain biker, learned when they began their own warm ups.

Source: Hartford Courant