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Out there in the real world, one nurse witnessed the following:

During halftime of the high school championship basketball game, Cara Beckwith began to exhibit shaking in her hands and arms. She was sweating profusely, which she thought was related to the intensity of the game and her unusual level of aggression on the court. She was unable to focus on the coach's instructions and became agitated when addressed. When she complained about a headache and paraesthesia in her hands, the coach summoned the athletic trainer (AT), who realized that Ms. Beckwith might be showing signs of hypoglycemia related to her recently diagnosed diabetes. Ms. Beckwith was instructed to test her blood glucose level, which was found to be 60 mg/dL. She needed to eat something with at least 15 g of carbohydrates and retest her blood glucose in 15 min. She was given 4 oz of orange juice, a handful of jellybeans, and half of a protein bar. In 15 min, her glucose level was 90 mg/dL and her symptoms improved. If her symptoms had not improved, she would have required emergent evaluation by a physician, because severe hypoglycemia is a medical emergency that could lead to loss of consciousness and coma if left untreated. It is important to be able to recognize signs and symptoms early to treat conditions properly.

Jodi Nili, RN, BSN

Patient Safety Manager

Community Regional Medical Center

Fresno, California


learning outcomes

After working through this chapter, you will be able to:

  1. Obtain a thorough medical history that includes identifying pertinent past medical conditions and injuries related to the present condition.

  2. Communicate the reasoning for differential diagnosis of general medical conditions.

  3. Explain the medical terminology associated with general medical condition assessments.


As an athletic trainer (AT), you will see numerous issues other than orthopedic injuries. Throughout this section, you are presented with many signs and symptoms of general medical conditions to help you fine-tune your assessment skills. You will also be presented with various situations that require medication, referral, or both. Beyond observing visual characteristics of the condition, you will need to determine whether the injury is severe enough to prevent the athlete from returning to play or to affect the athlete's activities. By implementing all the information you have learned in the classroom and then applying it by looking at the big picture in terms of what is going on with the athlete, you can determine the effective treatment for the injury to create the best possible outcome for the athlete.


Raymond Oliver has a history of eczema. He often notices patches of dry skin and has irritation during the winter months that subsides when he ...

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