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Washington Hospital Offering Pre-Participation Sports Physicals

July 23, 2013

Low-Cost Exams for High School Athletes Planned for August 7

The state of California requires a pre-participation physical exam for all athletes participating in interscholastic sports. Many community athletic organizations also require athletes to have a physical exam before they can participate in sports activities. The purpose of such physical exams is to help determine whether it is safe for young athletes to participate in various sports.

To make it easier - and less expensive - for high school student athletes and their families to obtain pre-participation sports physical exams, the Sports Medicine Program at Washington Hospital is offering a one-day clinic to provide the exams on Wednesday, August 7 from 3 to 6:30 p.m.

The exams will be performed at Washington Township Medical Foundation Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Office, located at 38690 Stivers Street, Suite A, in Fremont. The cost of the physical is $15 (payable in cash or by check made out to WHHS), which is lower than many co-payments for such exams. The first 25 athletes to have their sports physical exams that day will be entered to win a $50 iTunes gift card.

"Summer is an ideal time for student athletes to have a pre-participation sports physical exam since it is before the start of the school year and fall sports practices," says orthopedic and sports medicine specialist Dr. Russell Nord, medical director of the Sports Medicine Program.

"Our clinic on August 7 is not just for athletes who want to participate in fall sports," he notes. "Once an athlete has received medical clearance to participate in various sports, that clearance is valid for a full year. So athletes who want to participate in sports during other seasons can take advantage of this service, too."

The sports physical exams are part of Washington Hospital's ongoing efforts to support high school athletic programs in the community and to help prevent and treat student athletics injuries.

"Washington Hospital provides certified athletic trainers to three local high schools - Irvington, American and Washington - and fees from the sports physicals will be donated to the sports programs at those schools," says Mike Rogers, manager of Off-Site Services for the hospital and a certified athletic trainer.

"The athletic trainers are at the schools every day after school for practices, and they try to cover as many home games as possible," he explains. "They also attend away games for football. The athletic trainers work under the supervision of Dr. Nord to identify and treat minor sports injuries and to refer athletes for speedy evaluations of more serious injuries by a qualified physician right away."

Before coming for their sports physicals, athletes must fill out "Pre-participation Physical Evaluation" forms developed by the California Interscholastic Federation. During the exams, athletic trainers go over detailed medical histories for each athlete and conduct a preliminary exam before Dr. Nord or physician assistant and certified athletic trainer Kari Robertson sees the athlete for a more thorough evaluation.

"The information provided on the evaluation forms is extremely important because it can help us determine whether we might need to refer the patient to other physicians - such as a cardiologist - for further exams and testing," says Dr. Nord.

"There are three areas that we look at especially closely," he adds. "First, we need to know if there is any inherited heart condition or family history of heart problems that might result in a life-threatening situation. Next, we need to assess any chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or severe allergic reactions, and make sure those conditions are controlled. Chronic conditions such as diabetes don't necessarily preclude participation in sports, but we need to be sure the patients are managing those conditions.

"Musculoskeletal problems, such as prior injuries, represent the final area of concern" he continues. "We may need to order X-rays or other diagnostic screening tests to make sure an injury has healed properly. We also can refer patients to physical therapy if they need it before participating in sports."

In addition to bringing their completed forms, students participating in the screenings on August 7 should wear comfortable clothing - shorts or sweats and short-sleeved shirts. Each student also must have a parent or legal guardian present. At the end of the physical exam, the medical provider will have a conference with the parent or guardian to explain any findings.

According to Dr. Nord, "If the patient has a condition that precludes participation in some specific sports, it may not preclude all sports activities. For example, someone who is not cleared to participate in contact sports such as football or basketball might be cleared to take part in swimming or track. In the vast majority of cases, however, the athletes are cleared for participation in all sports without restriction."

For more information about the pre-participation sports physicals on August 7, call (510) 248-1030. To download the required "Pre-participation Physical Evaluation" forms, visit www.whhs.com/services/sports. The $15 physical fee must be paid in cash or by check made out to WHHS.

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