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MUSC Health Blog

By Amberle Phillips, MA, ATC, SCAT
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

Adequate amounts of sleep are vital for athletic performance and mental function. This is especially true for younger athletes. Sleep deprivation among college-aged athletes can be attributed to travel for sport, stress, balancing academics, athletics, and social life. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association recommends eight hours of sleep for individuals aged 17-22 years.

Sleep deprivation may impact mental health. The body’s ability to deal with stress and emotions depends on sleep to regulate proper functionality. Without sleep the mind is unable to process situations effectively and may cause emotional instability and inability to process stressful situations. Mood and depression are also affected by lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation may cause increased depression and other mood swings. The mind is not the only thing that is impacted by lack of sleep; the body’s cells are also affected.

During sleep is when the cells in the body grow, repair and rebuild helping injuries heal and preventing further injury from occurring. Cells need the rest that sleep provides to catch up on the days’ work that the body did. The cells will repair themselves and create new cells to assist in growth, and repair. The healing of cells that takes place during sleep is also the time when muscle cells and tissue can grow. Poor sleep and shortened sleep may also lead to weight gain and obesity. This is especially true in adolescents whom require more sleep than adults.

Here are a few tips and tricks that can be done to help fall asleep and to stay asleep:

  • Turn off all devices 1 hour prior to bedtime
  • Create a bedtime routine
  • Exercise daily
  • Meditation or total muscle relaxation techniques
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Stick to a schedule, even on the weekends

back to school image
best children's hospitals 2018-2019Are the long days of summer, picnics in the park, trips to beach and family vacations really coming to an end? Yes, it’s August and that signals a return to the classroom for children around the Lowcountry. Easing back into the school year is not always an easy task, but there are some things parents can do ahead of time to help their child have a healthy start to begin the new school year.

To begin, South Carolina law requires that children from 5K through grade 12 have proof of having been vaccinated. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control can provide specific details on requirements and local MUSC Children’s Health pediatricians can assist with administering any immunizations that are lacking.

Additionally, should your child require a sports physical, your pediatrician or MUSC Children’s Health After-Hours Center can help fill this need too. The MUSC Children’s Health After-Hours Centers are located in Mount Pleasant, Summerville and North Charleston. For the convenience of parents, After-Hours care is open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from Noon to 7 p.m.

Luke Edmondson, M.D., FAAP, and assistant professor with MUSC Health University Pediatrics in Moncks Corner, recommends your child receive well checks with their pediatrician during the summer so that immunizations are up-to-date before school starts, and parents can address any concerns or special needs their children may have.

Once immunizations and physicals are all in order, it’s also important to think about that first day of school and what can help to make it a little easier.

“Adjusting sleep schedules is a good way to help make sure your child is off to a good start,” said Dr. Edmondson, who recommends adjusting the schedule two weeks before the start of school. He also said weekend sleep should not be altered by more than one hour. Getting enough sleep is important for your child to be successful at school. Often a child who does not receive enough sleep has difficulty with behavior and focus.

Dr. Edmondson suggests that you begin talking about the positive aspects of school to create good anticipation of the first day. Remember that your child will see old friends and meet new ones too. If your child seems nervous about school, address the nervousness before school starts. It also helps to find another child to walk to school or ride on the bus.

If your child is riding the bus, he reminds parents to make sure the child understands the rules on the bus and that the child sit where he/she can see the bus driver, which assures that the driver can see your child.

If the child is walking, and he recommends that a child does not walk alone until they are at least 9 to 11 years of age, he encourages families to have their children walk to school in groups. The more the better, he said. A practice walk gives an opportunity to review the safety rules.

For the child who rides in the car to school, talk to your pediatrician about what kind of car seat is appropriate. He said children should not be out of a booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall and that a child should not sit in the front passenger seat until age 13.

It’s not too early to find the right backpack. Dr. Edmondson said the back pack should have padded shoulder straps and a padded back. He urged parents to not overload the backpack and to adjust the weight of items. If a child has many items to carry, a rolling backpack would be a better option.

Help your child get off to a good start by starting your child with a nutritious breakfast. Studies show that children who eat a good breakfast perform better. They will have better concentration and more energy. Some schools even provide breakfast.

Returning your child to homework assignments and developing good study habits can be challenging too. Help your child find an area that is conducive to homework. Identifying a consistent work space that is quiet, without distractions, helps to promote good study.

Dr. Edmondson said some children do better if they address homework right away and others are better off taking a 30 to 60 minute break before they start. He said the key is to establish a routine with a set schedule and know what works best for your child. Enjoy the school year with your child and should you require help in identifying a pediatrician or finding an After-Hours Center, visit The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers more tips for returning to school at

Zika Virus in South Carolina

According to the CDC, as of July 3, 2018 there have been 28 cases of Zika reported in the United States, and none reported in South Carolina. In all 28 cases, the patients with Zika were returning home from traveling in affected areas, not from mosquito-borne transmission in the US. SCDHEC also confirms that there have been zero Zika cases reported in South Carolina in 2018.

Protecting Yourself from Zika

While the threat of Zika is lower in 2018 than previous years, it is still important to understand your risks and know how to protect yourself – especially if you plan on traveling to an affected area.

The Zika virus is mainly spread though mosquito bites. Zika can spread from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or birth, and cases of transmission through blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported.

Protecting yourself from mosquitos is the best way to prevent Zika:

  • Use insect repellent
  • Wear clothes than cover the arms and legs
  • Use screens on windows and doors
  • Use air conditioning if available
  • Sleep under a mosquito net if outdoors or air conditioned/screened rooms are not possible
  • Empty items that hold water at least once a week (buckets, pools, pots, other containers)

When traveling to areas inside or outside of the US, know your risks before you go:

  • Review the CDC’s list of areas with Zika risk
  • Talk with your doctor about your travel plans
  • Talk with your partner about travel plans and Zika risk (especially for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant), use condoms or don’t have sex to avoid getting or spreading the Zika virus

Zika Symptoms

The most common Zika symptoms are generally mild, including fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. People typically do not need to go to the hospital with a Zika infection, because they likely do not even realize they’ve been infected. For pregnant women, Zika can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects in unborn children. Learn more about Zika and Pregnancy from the CDC.

If you have traveled to an area with risk of Zika and are feeling similar symptoms, it is important to be tested by your doctor.

MUSC Health Doctors Near You in Charleston, SC

If you are concerned about upcoming travel or have Zika symptoms, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor, ob/gyn, or talk with the MUSC Health Travel Medicine care team. Our women's health and primary care physicians are available in locations throughout the Lowcountry.





Ebola, or Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), is a rare but deadly illness that is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. Ebola was first discovered in Africa in 1976, and the virus has emerged in several African counties over the years. Most recently, the Democratic Republic of Congo declared an Ebola outbreak in May of 2018.   

The CDC lists typical Ebola symptoms as fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising.

Ebola Ebola, or Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), is a rare but deadly illness that is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. Ebola was first discovered in Africa in 1976, and the virus has emerged in several African counties over the years. Most recently, the Democratic Republic of Congo declared an Ebola outbreak in May of 2018.   Symptoms: fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising. Sources:,

How To Protect Yourself from Ebola

While Ebola is very rare in the United States, Ebola is considered widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the CDC, if you are visiting or living in a place where Ebola is widespread, there are ways to protect yourself and prevent the spread of the virus. When in an area affected by Ebola:

  • Avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids
  • Avoid items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids
  • Avoid funeral rituals that require handling the body of someone who died from Ebola
  • Avoid contact with bats and primates or blood, fluids, or meat from those animals
  • Avoid meat from an unknown source
  • Avoid contact with semen from a man who had Ebola until you know the virus is gone from the semen



Travel Medicine at MUSC Health

Travelers from Charleston can stay healthy before, during, and after a trip with MUSC Health Travel Medicine services. Our infectious disease doctors specialize in protecting you against health risks you may face when traveling abroad. While an Ebola vaccine is not currently available, one of the best ways to avoid getting sick is to get vaccines for diseases that are common in the areas you are visiting. You can also schedule an appointment with an MUSC Health primary care doctor about your travel plans and schedule any necessary vaccinations.

MUSC Global Health

MUSC is also working toward creating healthier communities all over the world through the MUSC Center for Global Health. Our work includes research to find new solutions to global health problems, collaboration with experts around the globe, educating the next generation of global health leaders with hands-on clinical work in other countries, and improving care in developing countries through medical missions with MUSC doctors, nurses, and medical students.


By Stephanie Davey, MEd, ATC, PES
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

The middle of July means that high school football is just a couple of weeks away. In South Carolina, most of our high schools start around July 27th. If your son is planning to play football and go through preseason, there are a few things they need to focus on off the field in order to be safe and productive on the field.

Hopefully, your son has already been working on his conditioning. This will go a long way to him being able to acclimate to the South Carolina heat. South Carolina High School League mandates an acclimatization practice plans that all high schools must follow. If you have questions about that plan you can find it on the South Carolina High School League website

Hydration is always the first thing that comes to mind when we think of preseason football. Your son must be hydrated prior to reporting to practice each day. There is no way to catch up if they are already dehydrated when they arrive. Two ways to tell if they are hydrated is monitoring the color and volume of their urine and making sure they weigh in and out of practices. Their urine should be a light yellow color and high in volume before they go to bed each night. Secondly, they should be weighing in prior to practice and out after practice. They can do this at home or with their athletic trainer. For every pound that they lost during practice, they need to drink 20-24 oz of fluid. If they do not regain the weight they’ve lost during the previous practice, they may need to be held out of practice until they’ve rehydrated. To rehydrate, they should consume water and a sports drink. Soda and beverages with a high caffeine content should be avoided. Energy drinks should not be consumed at all.

The next thing to focus on is proper nutrition. The body is just like a car, the better fuel you put in it the better it performs. Your son needs quality food that is high in nutrition volume with a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Your son needs 40 – 50 kcals/kg of body weight. They should consume 4-8g/kg of carbohydrates and 2-3 g/kg of proteins.  Foods to focus on are lean meats, eggs, nut butters, protein shakes, pastas, and fruits and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables with a high water content can also help to hydrate. Your son needs to eat prior to practice, even if it is an early morning practice. It shouldn’t be a big heavy meal, but they need to have some source of energy before practice.

The last thing to focus on is sleep. The National Institute of Health recommends that high school athletes get an average of 9-10 hours of sleep each night.  Proper sleeping habits with allow your son’s body the time it needs to recover after each practice.  It allows him to stay focused and think clearly during practice. Better recovery and better focus leads to better performance.

Taking these steps will go a long way towards protecting your son during preseason football, ensuring that he has a fun, productive and safe football season.


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