Athletic Advantage: The Pre-Participation Physical

Do you ever wonder if doctors ever look at the forms you fill out at the office asking about your families health history? 

If so, your not alone. But the answer is yes.

And it's extremely important for athletes getting physicals. 
"The pre-participation exam is an ideal opportunity for a practitioner to get their hands on an athlete and check for those types of things," says Dr. Brian Hull.

For a student to become an athlete in the state of Texas they must annually fill out a medical history form and receive a pre-participation physical.

"We are very strict about it and won't sign off until that data has been completed and reviewed," says Dr. Hull. 

One check in a box can raise a red flag to a physician of a potential future cardiovascular event. Therefore, knowing your family history could save your life. Heart murmurs are an instant red-flag.

New research is now helping doctors prevent repetitive head injuries as well. "The most important thing that we're really focused on now is closed head injuries and we finally have great guidelines and are starting to protect these kids more than in the past because we didn't know. 

"We didn't understand and research is guiding us that way," says Dr. Hull.  Heart problems, head injuries, back pain, flexibility issues  all can be detected or help diagnose bigger concerns. And all can come from a pre-participation physical.

Studies show less than one percent of athletes fail the exam. "Should we fail more? Probably. If we really scrutinize some of the things but again we are doing these exams 40 and 50 at a time from providers that aren't their regular providers," says Dr. Hull. 

Which brings us to the most important thing you need to know. Don't procrastinate. And go to your family doctor.

"I think the most important thing is that they get this done early in the season. One of the problems is they wait til the last minute and they have to get it done quickly or not by their primary care physician. These are best done if done by the physician or practitioner that knows the patient best," says Dr. Hull. 

So what are you waiting for? Make that call as soon as possible. 

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