Texting After Fainting a Good Sign

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Teenagers who fiendishly text their friends apparently are more than just obsessive, compulsive, annoying and just plain incomprehensible to older generations.

In certain situations -- after fainting or panicking, for instance -- texting can be a medical indication that the patient is recovering.

"The ability to text if nothing else is medically wrong may shows that the patient has recovered from the faint or panic attack," said Dr. Mike Sinclair, pit crew coordinator for Festival Medical Services, a British organization that supplies medical professionals to handle emergencies at music festivals. "Of course, if you break a leg, you are still able to text, but we use it as a sign in young people that have fainted or had a panic attack that they have recovered."

Sinclair is co-author of a paper on the topic, originally published in the December issue of BMJ and also reported in the February issue of Pediatrics.

Two years ago, Festival Medical Services started using the method after noticing that most of the individuals fainting or panicking were teenagers, and they started sending messages on their cell phones as soon as humanly possible after an episode.

When the resuscitation tent located at the side of the stages is especially busy (sometimes up to two patients each minute), this "monitoring" system can be especially useful.

At last August's Reading Festival, the medical team treated 142 patients in less than an hour during the performance by Bloc Party, and 130 patients in an hour-and-a-half while Rage Against the Machine performed, Sinclair noted.

The Reading Festival draws a crowd of about 100,000, and the Glastonbury Festival in June, which Festival Medical Services also covers, draws about twice that, including festival workers.

According to the authors, being able to text is indicative of good executive functioning in the brain and "a degree of common sense not always evident in teenagers."

"It take a lot of cognitive work and dexterity in order for a kid to be able to text," said Dr. Robert Greenberg, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and vice chairman of emergency medicine at Scott & White in Temple. "What it is representing to me is that you can do an assessment on patients without really complicated type stuff."

Sometimes just walking and talking can be an indication that a patient is recovering. "It takes a lot to do that," Greenberg said.

Fainting in young people can be caused by fear, standing still for too long, dehydration and more. Panic can stem from fear of being crushed or caught in a crowd, not an unreasonable fear given that eight fans were trampled to death in 2000, when Pearl Jam was performing at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, and 53 people were crushed to death during the 1999 Troitsa Festival in Minsk, Belarus.

Texting as a sign of recovery does need to be investigated further, Sinclair said. And it might be noted that the crew does check to make sure nothing else is wrong with the patient (such as low blood sugar).

But do the texting messages kids send after fainting or panicking make sense? You be the judge:

"When we have asked the people what they are texting, there are usually three things: (1) I'm back stage [which they think is fantastic]; (2) I'm OK; and (3) Where can we meet up!," Sinclair said.

More information

For more on crowd safety, visit crowdsafe.com.

SOURCES: Mike Sinclair, M.B., cardiac anesthetist, pit crew coordinator, Festival Medical Services, Wells, Somerset, U.K.; Robert Greenberg, M.D., assistant professor, emergency medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and vice chairman, emergency medicine, Scott & White, Temple, Texas; December 2008 BMJ; February 2009 Pediatrics

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