Youth Sports Coalition Calls for Uniform Examination Process for Student Athletes

May 25, 2010 05:05 pm James Arvantes Washington –

A uniform and consistent method for administering preparticipation medical evaluations for American youth athletes could reduce the chances of injuries and improve the overall quality and safety of student athletics. And a coalition that includes the AAFP is advocating widespread adoption of such a method.

Family physician Yvette Rooks, M.D., said a uniform physical exam for young student athletes is a way to protect the nation's youth.

The Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, or PPE, Campaign and Coalition for Youth Sports Health and Safety urged the sports and medical communities to adopt its updated PPE guide during a press conference here on May 14.

Six organizations, including the AAFP, collaborated on the 180-page PPE monograph, which provides guidance on how to conduct physicals for student athletes. It also provides medical background for decisions by an individual athlete's physician or team physician.

"The CDC estimates that there are more than 2 million injuries among high-school student athletes, more than half of which are probably preventable," said David Bernhardt, M.D., professor of pediatrics and orthopedics/rehabilitation in the division of sports medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, and co-author of the monograph. "This coalition and campaign is committed to making sports even more of a health-enhancing experience … by addressing the health and well-being of our young athletes before training and competition."

Preparticipation Physical Evaluation Forms Ready to Download

Family physicians who care for young athletes now can download four individualized preparticipation physical evaluation, or PPE, forms. They are

One of the goals of the monograph is to aid physicians and other health care professionals who do not provide physical exams on a regular basis, said co-author William Roberts, M.D., of St. Paul, Minn. He is a professor in the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnesota Medical School and program director at Phalen Village Family Medicine Residency Clinic in St. Paul.

The monograph, which is in its fourth edition, is twice the size of previous editions and places a greater emphasis on conditions that might affect a student athlete's overall health status, such as cardiovascular health, heat and hydration, head injuries, concussions, and asthma. The latest edition also contains more information on women athletes and athletes with special needs.

According to family physician Yvette Rooks, M.D., of Baltimore, vice chair and assistant professor in the University of Maryland Department of Family & Community Medicine, program director of the University of Maryland Medical Center Family Medicine Residency and head team physician for the University of Maryland at College Park, she is "always picking up pre-existing conditions in our athletes who need further work-up."

"If we had an exam coming in or had a proper exam at the high-school level, we could have picked up some of these (conditions) that needed to be evaluated," said Rooks.