May 28, 2010

High school physicals program surges

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Vanderbilt Sports Medicine’s Matt Yampolsky, left, checks baseball player Christavis Henderson’s blood pressure. (photo by Susan Urmy)

High school physicals program surges

On May 15, the crowd in the waiting room at the Vanderbilt Orthopaedic Institute was a bit younger than usual, and a lot more boisterous.

For more than six hours, hundreds of high school athletes from across Davidson County streamed into the clinic for their annual physical evaluation.

As high school sports get more competitive and more injury-prone, Vanderbilt Sports Medicine is committed to keeping athletes fit, healthy and off the sidelines.

The program is the official sports medicine provider for Metro Nashville Public Schools, a service that is free to the school system. It has athletic trainers and team physicians covering every sport at all 15 Metro high schools plus Harpeth High School and University School of Nashville.

An important annual ritual is the pre-participation physical, a requirement of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.

Overton High School’s Rachel Faith Clark takes part in an orthopaedic screening. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Overton High School’s Rachel Faith Clark takes part in an orthopaedic screening. (photo by Susan Urmy)

“This is a general physical evaluation, including height, weight, blood pressure, an orthopaedic screen and a physician consult,” said Mindy Chandler, A.T.C., assistant manager for outreach.

Physicals have been offered since 1997, and Chandler estimates that more than 7,000 athletes have been screened since then. The evaluators — including athletic trainers, physical therapists and physicians who all take part on a volunteer basis — look for cardiac issues, like a heart murmur, and orthopaedic issues, like soreness and unhealed injuries.

“For just $10, this is a tremendous opportunity for them to have a full consultation with a physician, and even be seen by a specialists if issues arise. We can also schedule them for a follow-up consult or an X-ray if needed, and they already know where our facility is,” Chandler said.

Dennis Moreno, a football coach at Hillsboro High School, praised the continuity of care.

“I like that the people who will be handling the kids throughout the year are actually doing the physical evaluation,” he said. “They look at everything and make notes on issues. Then they are aware of them as they come up throughout the season.”

Moreno said the athletic trainers from Vanderbilt Sports Medicine have taken a load off his shoulders.

“We're not doctors and would just be guessing at whatever is wrong. The athletic trainers are there for every game in every sport, and it is a great service to the whole Nashville area. Vanderbilt does an excellent job of keeping our kids healthy,” he said.