Having an injury or illness while you are training or competing in your hometown can be scary enough. Imagine if you were playing across the country, or in another country. While you might not be able to prevent every injury or illness, you can prepare ahead of time to have the best possible outcome in case anything does happen when traveling for sports.
Research the location
First, research the location of your competition. Larger cities are more likely to have hospitals close by and large medical staffs on site. More rural competitions may not have as comprehensive of medical coverage at the events. If you or your coaches know that there is limited access to medical coverage, consider bringing an athletic trainer or physician and more supplies and medications in the medical bags.
Bring your medical records
Always bring your medical records. Keep a document that lists any pertinent medical conditions, history of injuries and surgeries, drug and environmental allergies, and medications. Keep a copy in your personal belongings, and make sure that your coach and traveling physicians or trainers have a copy as well.
Get your vaccinations
Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Your primary care physician can check to see if you have had all of the routine vaccinations. If you are traveling to a more remote or tropical destination, check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization to find out if any other vaccinations are recommended.
Undergo a physical exam
Undergo a preparticipation physical exam. See either your team doctor or your personal physician prior to traveling overseas for competition. Discuss any current medical illnesses and injuries. This exam also give you the opportunity to discuss any concerns and anxieties you might have about the upcoming trip.
Have medical supplies
Teams and their medical staffs should prepare and bring an adequate medical supply kit. At a minimum, medical kits should contain gloves,supplies to clean lacerations and abrasions, dressings and bandage supplies, suture kits, and various types of tape. If it is feasible to travel with more equipment, medical devices, such as automatic external defibrillators, are ideal.
Bring any medications you might need
Athletes should bring any medications you might need. Plan ahead and check that you have enough of all of the medications you take regularly or as needed. Make sure that all medications are properly labeled to prevent any issues going through airports and customs.
Prevent the spread of infection
Diarrhea can spread throughout a team fairly quickly, so make every effort to minimize the chance of getting sick. Regularly wash your hands. Consider drinking bottled or purified water. Also check with your team doctor about bringing appropriate antibiotics to treat traveler’s diarrhea in case the illness develops among several of the players.
Avoid blood clots
Avoid blood clots that can occur on long flights. If you know that the flight is more than three or four hours, consider wearing support stockings during the flight. Also get up and walk around the plane frequently during the flight. Walking will get the muscles moving. It will also prevent blood from pooling in the legs and potentially forming a clot.
Have contact information when traveling for sports
Finally, someone on the team should create a list of phone numbers of the coaches, team volunteers, team medical staff, and all players. Distribute that list to everyone. Also create a list of local hospitals with locations and phone numbers. Include the contact information for tournament organizers. Create an action plan and spend some time with the entire group traveling for sports to make sure everyone knows what to do before an emergency develops.