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Low-Cost Exams for High School Athletes Planned for August 3

Sports Physicals Help Ensure Student Athlete Safety

Most states, including California, require a pre-participation physical exam for all athletes participating in interscholastic sports. Many community athletic organizations also require a physical exam before an athlete can participate in sports activities. To make it easier – and less expensive – for high school student athletes and their families to obtain pre-participation sports physical exams, Washington Sports Medicine is offering a one-day clinic to provide the exams on Monday, August 3, from 3 to 6 p.m.

“The purpose of these sports physical exams is to help ensure the safety of young athletes who participate in various sports and to reduce their risk of injury,” says Washington Sports Medicine Medical Director Dr. Russell Nord.

An orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Dr. Nord notes, “Summer is a great time for student athletes to have a pre-participation sports physical exam since it is before the start of the school year and the beginning of practices for fall sports. The clinic on August 3 is not just for high school athletes who want to participate in fall sports, however. Once an athlete has received medical clearance to participate in athletics, 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 exams will be performed at the Washington Sports Medicine office, located at 38690 Stivers Street, Suite A, in Fremont. The cost of the physical is $15, 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.

“Washington Sports Medicine donates all the exam fees to help purchase sports medicine supplies at high schools where we provide sports medicine services,” notes Washington Hospital’s Manager of Off-Site Services Mike Rogers, who also is a certified athletic trainer.

Before coming for their sports physicals, athletes must fill out the “Pre-participation Physical Evaluation” form developed by the California Interscholastic Federation. A parent or legal guardian must sign the form for any student athlete under age 18. The forms can be downloaded for free from Washington Hospital’s website at The download link can be found on the right-hand side of the page.

“At the clinic, athletic trainers go over detailed medical histories for each athlete and conduct a preliminary exam before a physician or physician assistant sees the athlete for a more thorough evaluation,” Mr. Rogers explains. “The information provided on the evaluation form is important because it can help us evaluate the athlete’s medical history for any problems that might preclude or limit sports participation.”

During the exam, the medical staff at Washington Sports Medicine will examine the student athlete from head to toe.

“We check the athletes’ height, weight, heart rate and blood pressure,” says Dr. Nord. “We listen to their heart and lungs. We examine their ears and mouths. We feel their necks to make sure they don’t have any swollen lymph nodes. We also test their vision. It is not uncommon to detect visual problems in patients who may not have had a thorough eye exam. It can be a safety issue if an athlete doesn’t see well. If the athlete’s vision is less than 20/40, we would recommend corrective lenses – either glasses or contacts.”

The medical staff also assesses any chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or severe allergic reactions, and makes sure those conditions are controlled. Chronic conditions such as diabetes don't necessarily preclude participation in sports, but it is important to determine whether the patients are managing those conditions.

“Musculoskeletal problems, including prior injuries, represent the final area of evaluation” Dr. Nord says. “We evaluate the range of motion, strength and stability of the athletes’ joints. If an injury hasn’t yet been treated, we can coordinate x-rays or a referral to physical therapy if the athlete needs it before participating in sports.”

In addition to bringing their completed forms, students participating in the screenings on August 3 should wear comfortable clothing – shorts and short-sleeved T-shirts. Each student also should 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.

“If there is a concern with the athlete, it’s best to address it with the parents right away,” says Dr. Nord. “Plus, it’s good to have parents there during the exams in case we have any questions about the family medical history. For example, teens don’t usually have detailed knowledge of any cardiac events that may have occurred in the family.”

According to Dr. Nord, if a patient has a condition that precludes participation in some specific sports, it may not eliminate all sports activities. For example, someone who is not cleared to participate in contact sports such as football, basketball or soccer might be able to take part in swimming, tennis or track.

“In most cases, the athletes are cleared for participation in all sports without restriction,” he says. “There is a small subset of patients who do have conditions, such as asthma, that need attention. One of the most common recommendations we make is to tell patients with asthma to be sure to have their inhalers with them at all practices and games.

“The pre-participation sports physical actually can be a fun experience,” he adds. “Plus, the athletes can benefit from getting advice from the athletic trainers and physicians on ways to avoid injuries that can disrupt their participation in sports.”

For more information about the pre-participation sports physicals on August 3, call 510.248.1030. To download the required “Pre-participation Physical Evaluation” forms, visit The $15 physical fee must be paid in cash or by check made out to WHHS.