This year members of the Environmental Extreme Lab (EEL) returned to the medical tent at the Brighton Marathon to carry out heat illness prevention research. The purpose of this year’s research was to collect questionnaire data on runners who were suffering from a heat illness. The heat illness susceptibility questionnaire (HIS-Q) was developed by a team of researchers within EEL and the initial reliability and validity was completed within a controlled laboratory environment at the University of Brighton. The Brighton Marathon presented the opportunity to test the HIS-Q in a field based environment, where core temperatures are often higher than that achieved through controlled laboratory testing.
“In a nutshell, your advice was not only spot on, it saved us. I believe that if your words about “Headache+1” had not gone through my head on that first night, I would have toughed it out, and in Dougie’s (professional guide) words, I would have lost. How seriously? Doesn’t bear thinking about.” (John Suchet, 2018)
The Environmental Extremes Lab (EEL) hosted the Suchet family, including John (newsreader and musical host on Classic FM) and David (Hercule Poirot) Suchet, on the Saturday 17th March ahead of their trek two weeks later to the iconic and breath-taking Inca city of Machu Picchu. In collaboration with local altitude awareness charity, Para-Monte, Dr Neil Maxwell, Gregor Eichhorn (PhD student), Mel Stemper (recent MSc graduate) and Josh Pennick (current MSc student) carried out altitude screening on the six members of the Suchet family, before Neil provided education around altitude illness and ways to prepare for the trek to make it enjoyable but also safer.
Research by Emily Watkins into practical pre-cooling methods for PPE wearers during severe heat exposure was published in Applied Ergonomics today (15/2/18). Pre-cooling is a method used to reduce core temperature, heart rate, and the sensation of being hot when individuals are exposed to hot environments. The aim is to reduce core temperature before the heat exposure, meaning an individual will stay at a safe core temperature for longer. In our previous study “Fire Service Instructors’ Working Practices: A UK Survey” it was indicated that few instructors used pre-cooling and those that did were using a variety of methods. This study aimed to assess three practical pre-cooling methods currently being used by instructors, to identify which method is the most beneficial in terms of reducing physiological and perceptual strain experienced from a heat exposure. Inflammatory responses were also investigated, as they can be markers of an increased risk of a cardiovascular event. The pre-cooling methods used were ice slurry consumption, phase change vest, and forearm cooling.
With only two months to go until the 33rd annual Marathon des Sables 2018 race, the University of Brighton’s Environmental Extremes Laboratory (EEL) has been busy completing many one-off heat pre-screening tests and arranging heat acclimation protocols for ultra-endurance runners to include in their important tapering periods in the lead up to race departure. The key to a safe and successful Marathon des Sables race is preparation, education and adaptation.
Para-Monte release their altitude sickness app. Please download and encourage anyone going to altitude to do the same.
Dr Neil Maxwell and a number of the Environmental Extremes Lab presented ‘Beat the heat with science’ at the British Science Festival Event in Falmer on the 5th September 2017. The presentation consisted of live experiments, myths and a range of other content delivered to some very enthusiastic members of the public as well as medical/science students.
Dr Neil Maxwell at the British Science Festival with (from left to right) Gregor Eichhorn (PhD Student), Kirsty Waldock (PhD Student), Bill Norton (MSc Student and Technician), Dr Mark Hayes (Senior Lecturer), Rebecca Relf (PhD Student and Technical Instructor) and Associate Professor Peter Watt (not pictured)
The Sport and Exercise Science Consultancy Unit (SESCU) and Para-Monte have recently supported six members of staff from British Airways prior to their climb of Jebel Toubkal (4167m) in Morocco for Comic Relief.
They visited the lab and performed an Altitude Screening Test in the hypoxic chamber, which is able to simulate the effects of high altitude through reducing the oxygen levels compared to sea level.
The chamber was set at 3000m whilst they walked at 5km/hr and at a 10% incline, with various measures being taken throughout. This included the Lake Louise Questionnaire which assesses the presence and severity of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) through an individual’s self-reported score on five symptoms: headache, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue and/or weakness, dizziness/light-headedness and difficulty sleeping. The LLQ scores showed that four of the individuals were at low risk of AMS, however one was at moderate risk and one was at high risk.
Oxygen Saturation was also measured which is the percentage of oxygen in the blood that has bound with haemaglobin. Oxygen saturation declines with altitude as the atmospheric pressure deceases, however the rate varies considerably between individuals. Comparing the oxygen saturation drop to previous data indicated that five members of the group were at low risk of AMS and one was at moderate risk.
SESCU and Para-Monte also provided the team with equipment to use on their trek to assess their physiological responses to altitude and their risk of AMS. They found that those who presented the highest risk of AMS in the Altitude Screening Test also presented the highest risk on the trek.
The whole team managed to reach the summit safely and no-one reported any severe problems, nor required medical support. They believed the information they had received during the screening had implanted the self-awareness to slow down, break, take on fuel and water and slowly ascend.
“The information provided by the University of Brighton certainly helped us prepare for the challenge, and made us aware of the signs and symptoms of altitude illness”
Building on the success of last year, the SESCU team worked with 10 contenders in the Marathon des Sables, prior to their journey to Morocco. Endurance runners from all over the UK and as far as Switzerland have sought out SESCU’s expertise and facilities to help them prepare for the race.
The Marathon des Sables, is an annual 6 day ultramarathon in which competitors travel 251km in the desert heat. Continue reading
A special event took place at the Sport and Exercise Science Laboratories in Eastbourne campus on Saturday 28 January 2017 when the Para-Monte charity presented the University of Brighton with a cheque for £10,000.
Congratulations to Carl James and Rebecca Relf for winning the 2016 School of Sport and Service Management prizes for the following categories, respectively; Research Student award for best piece of work and Best Masters Student piece of work. The awards were given for Carl’s 4th PhD study: “Short term heat acclimation improves the determinants of endurance per-formance and 5,000 m running performance in the heat” and Rebecca’s piece entitled “Females exposed to 24 hours of sleep deprivation do not experience greater physiological strain, but do perceive heat illness symptoms more severely, during exercise-heat stress”.