High school athletes can receive free physicals Saturday, May 14 | VailDaily.com

High school athletes can receive free physicals Saturday, May 14

Tania Engle, physician's assistant with Vail Valley Medical Center’s Internal Medicine department, provided general health screenings to nearly 250 high school student-athletes at last year’s free physicals. This year’s event will be held at Battle Mountain High School on Saturday, May 14.
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Pre-participation physicals

The Vail Valley Medical Center will offer free High School Pre-Participation Physicals on Saturday, May 14, at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards. Here’s the schedule:

• 8-9 a.m. — Incoming freshman girls and girls’ electrocardiogram (EKG) screening (EKGs available to all female athletes and are not mandatory for 10th to 12th grades)

• 9:30-10:30 a.m. — Incoming freshman boys and boys’ EKG screening (EKGs available to all male athletes and are not mandatory for 10th to 12th grades)

• 10:30 a.m. to noon — Incoming 10th, 11th and 12th-grade girls

• Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Incoming 10th, 11th and 12th-grade boys

Physicals include:

• Exams provided by the doctors and staff at Vail Valley Medical Center and The

Steadman Clinic, as well as paramedics from Eagle County Paramedic Services

• Freshman ImPACT baseline testing for concussions

• Referrals for athletes with health concerns

• Education regarding concussions, injury prevention, return to sport after injury and physical rehabilitation

Incoming freshmen should expect physicals to take two hours for ImPACT testing and

EKG/cardio screening. Athletes younger than 18 must be accompanied by a guardian, and physical forms must be signed and filled out by a guardian. Wear shorts and a T-shirt (sports bra). Fill out physical forms beforehand and bring them with you the day of the physicals.

Find forms and more information at http://www.thesteadmanclinic.com under “Patient Forms.”

VAIL — Vail Valley Medical Center, The Steadman Clinic and Eagle County Paramedic Services will provide free high school pre-participation physicals for all Eagle County student-athletes on Saturday at Battle Mountain High School. Last year, nearly 250 high school boys and girls took advantage of this free offering.

“(Vail Valley Medical Center), The Steadman Clinic and other local medical providers have partnered to offer this service for almost 20 years,” said Doris Kirchner, Vail Valley Medical Center president and CEO. “The goal of offering this testing at no cost is to make athletics possible for all our high school student-athletes, but our true mission is to keep these young athletes healthy and safe.”

Competitive runners, skiers, dancers, football and ice hockey players will be screened for vision and hearing; heart, blood pressure and pulse; as well as general health, and all incoming freshmen will receive ImPACT baseline testing for concussions. In addition, Vail Valley Medical Center’s trauma services representative will provide education to the student-athletes and their parents on injury prevention, concussions, when to return to sport after injury and physical rehabilitation.

“In the 12 years I’ve done pre-participation physicals, I’ve met an increasing number of athletes and parents who want to learn more about concussions,” said Brandie Martin, a certified athletic trainer at The Steadman Clinic and director of the athletic training program for Eagle County Schools. “I have also seen an increase in the number of reported concussions, which may mean that our initiatives to educate athletes about the danger of concussions are being heard.”

The purpose of the high school physicals is to try to find any pre-existing issues that can be corrected so the students can play more safely. While athletics support an active and healthy lifestyle, there are inherent risks of injury, especially as sports become more rigorous in high school. Concussions, a particular area of concern in young athletes, will be one area of focus for the physicals.

A second area of concern in young athletes is the heart. Shocking incidents of sudden cardiac arrest and other heart-related deaths in high school athletes across the nation have signaled the need for physicians to check for a history of heart disease and listen for heart murmurs. Irregular heartbeats, blood pressure and pulse are of particular concern for athletes living and competing at high altitude.

“(Electrocardiogram) screenings are the least expensive and easiest way to look for heart pathology,” said Dr. Nelson Prager, a cardiologist who specializes in electrophysiology and will be performing the EKGs for all student-athletes who choose to receive them. “They only take a few minutes and are noninvasive. They may pick up heart abnormalities that could be life-threatening.”

A musculoskeletal exam is also required to participate in sports. While some students of high school age experience growing pains that are of less concern, Martin explains that joints that swell, slip or come out of place are a red flag for orthopedic physicians and athletic trainers.

“Often we can find these issues, get the students on a therapy plan and develop programs for stretching and maintenance to help minimize the chance for injury,” Martin said.

Pre-participation tests similar to those offered on Saturday would require visits to a family physician or pediatrician and a musculoskeletal specialist. Participants in the free physicals will receive all-in-one assessments and advice at no cost.

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