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Healthy You

The Games: Dr. Dunlap Breaks the Ice

By: Angelina Campanile

Bradley Dunlap, MD, was a gritty forward for the Yale University ice hockey team when he came face to face with his future self.

A severe knee injury sent the offensive freshman to an orthopaedic surgeon – a former collegiate football player who made a powerful impression on the young biology major.

“It kind of clicked during that encounter that this is something I could really do and that’s what started me down that path,” said Dr. Dunlap, now an orthopaedic surgeon with the NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute.

Dr. Dunlap’s love for the game continues to play a large role in his life. He currently sits on the board of the Evanston Youth Hockey Association, and has coached the Evanston Township High School hockey team. He’s also served as a physician for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.

Outside of the operating room, you can find Dr. Dunlap watching Team USA fight for Gold in The Games this week.

Click the video to watch Dr. Dunlap break the ice, and read below for his advice on how to stay injury-free while enjoying activities this winter. 

Hockey is a physically demanding sport. But you don’t have to be an athlete to get a serious injury. The most common injuries Dr. Dunlap sees in winter are related to slips and falls, whether it’s on a driveway, ski hill or the ice rink. They are:

  • Bumps and bruises
  • Dislocated shoulders and elbows
  • Head injuries, concussions
  • Ankle strains, twists and fractures
  • Hip and wrist fractures
  • Knee injuries (MCL and ACL tears)
  • Muscle strain from shoveling snow or scraping ice off the car

Preventing injuries is Dr. Dunlap’s first priority when he and his family hits the ice. Here’s his advice:

Warm-up and layer up: Your muscles work less efficiently in a cold environment if they’re not warm. If you try an explosive activity with a cold muscle, you’re more likely to tear or strain that muscle. That’s why it’s important to not only wear multiple, breathable layers that can insulate your body and be removed as needed, but also to warm up and stretch before you begin your activity

Have the right equipment: Protective gear is crucial in most winter sports, whether you’re a pro or it’s your first day. For example, wear a helmet, goggles, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads when skiing, snowboarding, or doing any activity in which you can fall and injure yourself. 

Listen to your body: You’re more likely to injure yourself or get into an accident when your body is fatigued. If you start having back or shoulder pain while shoveling, for example, your body is telling you to stop and take some time to rest. 

Stay hydrated: The cold doesn’t make staying hydrated any less important than during warmer temperatures. You should be drinking just as much water during the winter as you do during the hot, summer months. Hydrate before, during, and after your activities to fuel your body and prevent complications stemming from dehydration like cramping and lightheadedness during your activity.