Student Athlete Pre-participation Physical Exams

Magnus Health
Athletics, Blog
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Student Athlete Pre-participation Physical Exams

Most schools require pre-participation physical exams (PPE) in order for students to participate in athletics.  In a past issue of the National Federation of State High School Associations’ High School Today Dr. Michael Koester addresses PPEs in “The Pre-participation Physical Exam.”  According to the article, the objectives of a PPE are:

1) Assess for conditions that may be life-threatening or disabling

2) Assess for conditions that may predispose to injury or illness

Koester says, “The PPE focuses on uncovering conditions that are typically quite rare in otherwise healthy adolescents, but if present are potentially quite serious. Most of these conditions are not obvious to the eye, and may not even be detectable following a focused physical examination. It is for this reason that the most important component of the PPE is a fairly extensive list of questions regarding the athlete’s past medical history and family medical history.”  According to the article, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in young athletes.  This condition is rare and detection is difficult during a routine exam, making family and health history even more important during a PPE.

The requirements for a PPE and the information collected are determined at a state level, so your school should be aware of state regulations and requirements.  Many states use the PPE form, or a variation of it, created by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, and American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine.

It’s important that your school require the correct form, and that the form be completed in its entirety.  The last thing you want is for a student to be allowed to participate in athletics without all of the required documentation.  If this happens, the student may be at risk, and if injured, the school could be at risk as well.  In addition, if the form required by your state does not include a comprehensive family and medical history section, it is a best practice to collect that information anyway. 

Find out how a student medical record helps you collect a full family and medical history.

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