Self-Care: The At Home Medical Toolkit

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“Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well; …and not today’s pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man.” – James H. West

The current pandemic is an occurrence that is very rare and will eventually fade, but the lessons that we learn from the activity will be valuable forever. The key tenet to takeaway from the pandemic, is the importance of self reliance where our health is concerned. With the current healthcare system under strain from the increasing cases of Covid-19 in some regions of the world, at home care is the order of the day. With careful preparation, you will be able to treat minor health conditions in the comfort of your own home. As a start, prevention is better than cure, but in the unlikely event of any injury or health concern, having an at home inventory of medical essentials will be your saving grace. Colder weather tends to draw people indoors, while warmer weather induces outdoor activities. Even in a lockdown, people will want to be out and about and try to live a life that is as normal as possible. With everyday life in the present day, strains, fractures and even arthritis are bound to exist. The root causes of the majority of orthopaedic cases are linked to athletic activity, which we must do in order to keep our bodies at peak physical state.

According to how you exercise, you may or may not have access to an athletic trainer, who can access you and treat you on the spot if you have an injury. The pandemic has resulted in limited access to places like gyms, and most people have had to resort to at home gyms, or external exercise in neighborhood parks or their backyards. With many individuals self training currently, many think that they know their bodies well. Injuries can develop, and  under those circumstances, it will be best to have a medical toolkit on hand, to treat any immediate ailments that may crop up, until you are able to access your orthopaedic surgeon for treatment. 

A medical toolkit is an essential that you keep on hand on the periphery as you are exercising, as well as keep critical essentials in the event of illnesses such as colds and flus. Equipped with your critical medical supplies and auxiliary equipment, you will benefit from creating for yourself a kit that can either range in size from a small case the size of a cosmetics bag to one that is about the size of a backpack. Small medical kits can be kept in places like your master bedroom, your car or your office. Larger medical kits can be kept in your home gym or in a medical cabinet. The key is to have your kit be something that you will welcome in your routine, and will be easily accessible in the event of an emergency. 

With the weather fluctuating from time to time, it is a good idea to wear a light sports jacket in the lower temperature ranges, if you are exercising outside. Cooler weather contributes to conditions that can weaken the immune system. The convenience of having your medical tool kit will benefit you once the relevant moment arises.

The items below are examples of tools that you can keep in your medical kit. You can modify your personal list according to your activity. You will need: 

  1. Athletic tape (in several versions) : Athletic tape is a pressure sensitive tape that resembles surgical tape. It adheres itself to the skin, and is utilized to keep muscles and bones in a set position. Depending on your activity, taping can help to prevent injuries to critical areas such as ankle joints. 
  2.  Band-aids: In everyday living, it is not uncommon to receive a scrape. In physical activity, the odds of injury are significantly increased. If you’re out jogging for instance, you may be prone to cuts from anything from the bark of a tree, to a scrape against a concrete wall or even exercise equipment that may have sharp edges or screw exposed. If you’re cut in such a manner that you are bleeding, a band-aid is an ideal way to cover your wound. 
  3.  Bandages: For larger cuts and scrapes that standard band-aids will be able to cover. 
  4. Antiseptic wipes: Depending on where you are, you may not always have access to clean water. If you’re in a gym and get an injury, you’ll be fine with respect to accessing your restroom facilities and cleaning your wound there. If you decide to go hiking for instance and get cut against the bark of a tree, a moist towelette like an antiseptic wipe will help you to clean the wound, while soothing it with healing agents. 
  5. Wipes: Wipes are always advised for gym use. Since some pieces of equipment are shared by multiple individuals, it will be important to clean the equipment between uses. Well equipped gyms have wipes in stock in an open area. If you don’t see any, you can ensure you have your own, and wipe down your equipment prior to, and after use. You will minimize the occurrence of communicable diseases. Additionally wipes are great for outdoor usage to cleanse prior to eating, if you’re in a remote location. Antibacterial gel also works well. 
  6.  Antacids: These will settle the stomach during those instances where you may have upset your stomach, or involved in physical activity that involves excessive motion that can induce dizziness and impact your stomach as a result. Keeping antacids on hand will help you to stabilize your stomach. Additionally, you can keep a can of a drink containing ginger to help you settle your stomach. The active ingredient in ginger is a natural antiseptic and antacid.
  7. Petroleum Jelly: To soothe your skin after irritation.  
  8. Scissors: To cut various items in your list such as your tape and bandages to size. 
  9. Specialized Tools : These vary according to your sport. If you’re a runner for instance, you may keep extra spikes in your bag, along with a screwdriver to affix them to your boots if you lose any. 
  10. EpiPen for treating allergic reactions, If you’re allergy prone, buy generic allergy tablets like Loratadine, and keep them on hand. If you’re prone to headaches, either keep tabs with two tablets of Advil/Tylenol or a full box of their generic equivalents of ibuprofen/acetaminophen. 
  11.  A resistance band for rehab and ankle taping
  12. Elastic wraps and extra padding for injuries.
  13. Items for colds and flus: Colds and flus, and even Covid-19 are caused by viruses that travel in the air through droplets. A boosted immune system will enable you to withstand the effects of these microbes in your body and enable you to heal much more rapidly than normal. Recommended for Covid-19 include: vitamins on hand. Vitamin C is an excellent immunity booster. Along with fruits and vegetables, you can keep on hand some vitamin C tablets that you take daily along with your meals. Medicines such as ibuprofen and paracetamol. These medicines are able to reduce fevers. Cough medicines are also essential. Viruses eventually attack your respiratory system so having cough drops, mouth washes and even cough medicines on hand will help you to heal faster. Effective cough medicines are ones that contain elements such as dextromethorpan. Familiar brands such as Nyquil and its equivalent generics also work quite well. 

It is better to be prepared! 2020 to the present has taught us well in this regard. The storm is not quite over, and we have to carefully navigate through the current health wave. In some instances, you’ll find that having your medical kit will enable you to have  a sense of assurance as you progress through your workouts and your daily life. When you have a cushion, you act more confidently as an athlete, than in instances when you don’t. Injuries often appear when you least expect them, so ensure that you are able to manage them when they do. There’s no such thing as a risk free life! Take good care of your health! 

Reference: 

  1. Inside An Athletic Trainer’s Toolkit: https://www.henryford.com/blog/2018/10/inside-athletic-trainers-toolkit
  2. Tourism Australia: https://www.australia.com/en/facts-and-planning/weather-in-australia.html

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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