Have you signed up for your PPE yet… pre-participation physical evaluation that is?
Similar to your yearly well check–up with your physician, this yearly sports screening evaluation (usually required by the schools) tries to help keep kids safe while playing sports. The real focus of this visit is targeted questions related to certain heart conditions (that you may not know you have) that could lead to sudden cardiac death. Although uncommon, sudden death does occur in young athletes each year due to undiagnosed medical conditions (usually heart problems).
This screening evaluation also looks at an athlete from head to toe to try to uncover any conditions that may cause injury or problems during the season in order to get them under control before the sports season starts ( ex. uncontrolled asthma, undiagnosed musculoskeletal injury or problem, previous concussions, etc…). The goal of this exam is not to try to unnecessarily exclude athletes from sports but to try to make their participation free from injury and disease. Although some debate the usefulness of the PPE, it is the only avenue we currently have to try to prevent some of the catastrophic events that can occur in young athletes. We want you to be able to play safely and have fun!
Tips for getting the MOST out of your PPE:
- Schedule your PPE at least 4-6 weeks prior to the start of your sports season. If anything needs to be evaluated, you will have plenty of time to get things taken care of before the season starts.
- It is best to have your PPE performed by your regular pediatrician or family doctor as they know you and your health history the best. Don’t rely on mass screenings at your local school as problems can be missed.
- Make sure your doctor uses the right form and asks correct and complete questions for proper screening. This form has been endorsed by 6 national medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, as the BEST and most complete sports health screening form. Use this PPE Form.
- Make sure BOTH the athlete and the parent(s) answer all of the personal and family history questions together. Accurate, complete and detailed information helps your doctor figure out how to best help you!
- Make sure to tell your doctor if you have ever experienced chest pain, tightness or pressure with exercise; passing out or nearly passing out DURING or AFTER exercises; heart racing or skipping beats during exercise, or more shortness of breath than your friends with exercise.
- Make sure to tell your doctor if any of these conditions run in your family: Sudden death, uncontrolled seizures, SIDS or unexplained drownings, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Marfan Syndrome, Long QT syndrome, Arrhythmogenic RV dysplasia, coronary artery anomalies or other cardiac conditions.
Stay safe and have fun!!