Hospital for Special Surgery has continued to strengthen its relationship with the New York City Public School Athletic League (PSAL) by hosting another “combine” for student athletes from public schools of New York City. A diverse medical team comprised of sports medicine physicians, physical therapists, and athletic trainers conduct an extensive medical screening of the individual athletes to ensure they can play safely and maximize their performance in the upcoming season.
Since medical clearance is mandatory for all New York City high school students wishing to play football, Hospital for Special Surgery recognizes that these student athletes need access to medical care, regardless of their ability to pay for it. This is also an exciting way for the medical staff to have the opportunity to interact with high school student athletes throughout the New York City community.
While the media highlights the National Football League’s combine as a way for the pro team scouts to assess the skill level of each player, it serves a much greater purpose at the high school level. The combine tests a variety of different skills including upper and lower body strength, core strength, flexibility and balance. Additionally, it assesses the athlete on their personal and family medical history to identify anything that may put the player at higher risk for injury or medical issues during the season. The evaluation can highlight areas of weakness in the player that can be corrected by specific exercises and allow the player to potentially perform at higher levels. It is important to address and correct these issues prior to the start of the season. The top priority of the medical staff is injury prevention rather than response after an injury has already occurred.
Players should be reminded that the body functions as one unit: if any one area is weakened, it can make all the other parts not function properly. This could lead to worse performance on the field and greater chance for injury.
Throughout the fall sports season, Hospital for Special Surgery will continue to offer a weekly clinic to treat PSAL high school athletes for injuries every Monday. This clinic provides the student athletes with access to care throughout the entire season.
Dr. James Kinderknecht is a sports medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery. He has spent the past 20 years caring for athletes of all ages and levels. Dr. Kinderknecht serves as the medical director of the Public School Athletic League Football Clinic.