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    Care of the student athlete

    Children today get involved in sports activities at younger ages, and the pressure to excel from parents and coaches has markedly increased. Pediatricians have the responsibility to promote physical fitness and health among their patients and also the duty to monitor student athletes for medical conditions that could lead to injury. This article discusses the recommended preparticipation medical screening that is the standard of care for these student athletes.

    Sports participation is on the rise among youth in the United States. As we continue to address childhood obesity, it is encouraging to see that the number of high school students playing sports has continued to increase yearly since 1983.1 The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) estimates that 55.5% of all high school students play organized interscholastic sports.2 Nearly 7.8 million students participated during the 2013-2014 school year, up over 80,000 from the previous year and up over 1 million from 2002.1

    Recommended: Locker room-acquired MRSA

    Sports offer the potential benefits of improving physical fitness, boosting self-esteem, learning about dedication and discipline, and increasing strength and coordination. Interscholastic competition provides an opportunity for teamwork, challenge, and camaraderie.3

    With the growing number of young athletes taking to the fields, courts, and gyms, there is an increasing need for medical screening. The preparticipation examination (PPE) is considered a standard of care for children and adolescents across the United States. It is a tool for screening athletes prior to beginning training and competition. The goal is to promote participation in athletics and optimize safety. The main objectives of the PPE are to screen for life-threatening or disabling conditions and to screen for conditions that may predispose children to injury or illness.4 The aim is to help young athletes participate, with modifications if need be, rather than prohibit participation.5

    NEXT: How well does the PPE work?

    Stacy Frye, MD
    Dr Frye serves as teaching faculty for the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, East Lansing. She also is a nonsurgical ...


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