Frank Caruso, a physician assistant specializing in orthopaedics at Wake Forest Baptist Health – Davie Medical Center, is also a 42-year firefighting veteran and leads EMT training at the Clemmons Fire Department.
Caruso is experienced enough to predict what common ailments he will treat during the summer.
"Right about now we’ll start seeing more seasonal injuries—burns, people twisting their ankles, bug bites, lots of exposure to the sun, more dehydration,’’ he said. These summertime injuries are common to all ages.
In the orthopaedics field, Caruso said knee and ankle injuries are most common. After inactivity over the winter many people dive into summer sports without adequate conditioning, which can lead to ankle sprains and other injuries. Shin splints, shoulder pain and stress fractures can result from overuse and lack of proper stretching.
“We have a large number of 70- to 80-year-olds in our area and many of them do not accept physical limitations,’’ Caruso said. It is especially important for them to be aware of bone health and to pay attention to arthritis inflammation. Injuries can occur simply by walking a dog, he said. When older patients report orthopaedic problems, “we try to treat them from a holistic perspective,’’ Caruso said. “What can I do to keep your musculoskeletal system healthier?”
Golfers also report more injuries as they play more frequently in the summer. Caruso advises diehard golfers to reduce the number of days they play or ride a golf cart if they experience knee pain. For rotator cuff problems, he suggests the player work with a coach to adjust their swing.
"Most of the time, the trauma and dehydration we treat results from folks working outside their comfort zone,’’ he said. “They’re trying to do it all at once and that’s when they get injured.”
Staying healthy while enjoying summer activities just takes common sense, Caruso said. Proper nutrition, conditioning, adequate rest and knowing your limitations will help.
Dr. Matt Cline, medical director of the Emergency Department at Davie Medical Center, agreed that injuries occur more frequently when the days get longer.
“Whether it is accidents related to being outside and playing, to burns from grilling or fireworks injuries, statistically the number of injuries related to those activities is going to go up this time of year,’’ Cline said.
He said ED numbers spike twice during the year—during the holiday season and at the end of the school year. He suggests people take common precautions to avoid injuries, but even that doesn’t always help.
“We do see situations where patients are not as cautious as they could be, but sometimes it’s just bad luck,” he said. “That’s the way it is with summertime injuries.”