Pre-Season Testing for Student Athletes

WABC-TV--New York—August 19, 2011

Egor Chernishov is having his balance tested.

He and almost a hundred other high school athletes are getting pre-season physical exams.

It's part of an annual event here at Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan where they offer free pre-season medical testing for PSAL students. They call it the combine - based on the NFL combine where they test the skills of athletes before they get drafted.

"You hear stories in the NFL about all this rigorous testing. It helps us bring our potential up to be like them," Chernishov said.

In New York City, every high school student in the public schools athletic league must have this medical form filled out before participating in interscholastic sports.

No form. No practice.

These kids know their health is important.

"To know if you're body's in shape for the season and what you can progress on, what you need to work on," student Rigaud Saintfleur said.

Dr. Jim Kinderknecht is a sports medicine specialist at Hospital for Special Surgery and director of this event. He says their evaluation is more extensive than what's mandatory.

"We look at them from medical and orthopedic side," he said.

The kids go from station to station getting checked out for everything from joint problems, vision changes and strength.

"Having improved flexibility and having good strength and balance is a good thing in terms of preventing injury," Kinderknecht said.

He says every child should be asked about family history and symptoms to look for underlying problems.

"Lightheadedness associated with exercise tire more easily than friends (any kind of chest pain or chest discomfort), shortness of breath or wheezing, looking for the asthma side of things," he said.

And there's cardiac testing.

Every child should have the basics: a stethescope exam, blood pressure and pulse check.

But every year we see a small number of athletes die of sudden cardiac death.

So should every young athlete also have an ekg and echocardiogram - an ultraound of the heart? The current guidelines say no.

"They're not a perfect test, so there's going to be false positives and false negatives," Kinderknecht said.

The concern is that could lead to unnecessary testing or even telling a child they can't play when in fact they would have been fine.

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