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High School Athletes to Receive Free Physicals

emily tamberino

VAIL CO — Vail Valley Medical Center The Steadman Clinic and Eagle County Paramedic Services will provide free high school pre-participation physicals for all Eagle County student-athletes on Saturday May 14 at Battle Mountain High School. Last year nearly 250 high school boys and girls took advantage of this free offering.

“VVMC The Steadman Clinic and other local medical providers have partnered to offer this service for almost 20 years” explains Vail Valley Medical Center's President and CEO Doris Kirchner. “The goal of offering this testing at no cost is to make athletics possible for all our high school student-athletes but our true mission is to keep these young athletes healthy and safe.”

Competitive runners skiers dancers football and ice hockey players will be screened for vision and hearing heart blood pressure and pulse as well as general health and all incoming freshmen will receive ImPACT baseline testing for concussions. In addition VVMC's trauma services representative will provide education to the student-athletes and their parents on injury prevention concussions when to return to sport after injury and physical rehabilitation.

“In the 12 years I've done pre-participation physicals I've met an increasing number of athletes and parents who want to learn more about concussions” says Brandie Martin a certified athletic trainer at The Steadman Clinic and director of the athletic training program for the Eagle County School District. “I have also seen an increase in the number of reported concussions which may mean that our initiatives to educate athletes about the danger of concussions are being heard.”

The purpose of the high school physicals is to try to find any pre-existing issues that can be corrected so the students can play more safely. While athletics support an active and healthy lifestyle there are inherent risks of injury especially as sports become more rigorous in high school. Concussions a particular area of concern in young athletes will be one area of focus for the physicals. A second area of concern in young athletes is the heart. Shocking incidents of sudden cardiac arrest and other heart-related deaths in high school athletes across the nation have signaled the need for physicians to check for a history of heart disease and listen for heart murmurs. Irregular heartbeats blood pressure and pulse are of particular concern for athletes living and competing at high altitude.

“EKG screenings are the least expensive and easiest way to look for heart pathology” explains Dr. Nelson Prager a cardiologist who specializes in electrophysiology and will be performing the EKGs for all student-athletes who choose to receive them. “They only take a few minutes and are noninvasive. They may pick up heart abnormalities that could be life threatening.”

A musculoskeletal exam is also required to participate in sports. While some students of high school age experience growing pains that are of less concern Martin explains that joints that swell slip or come out of place are a red flag for orthopaedic physicians and athletic trainers.

“Often we can find these issues get the students on a therapy plan and develop programs for stretching and maintenance to help minimize the chance for injury” explains Martin.

Similar pre-participation testing to those offered on Saturday would require visits to a family physician or pediatrician and a musculoskeletal specialist. Participants in the free physicals will receive all-in-one assessments and advice at no cost.

About Vail Valley Medical Center
From modest beginnings in 1965 VVMC has grown into one of the world's most advanced mountain hospitals providing Olympic-quality sports medicine leading evidence-based research modern cancer care and extensive cardiology services – all top-quality services with exceptional outcomes. An independent nonprofit medical center VVMC keeps hundreds of jobs and resources local better serving our community and visitors. Providing superior health services with compassion and exceptional outcomes VVMC offers expanding services low infection rates free community services and top-rated patient satisfaction scores. For more information please visit

About The Steadman Clinic
The Steadman Clinic is a world-renowned orthopaedic clinic with facilities located in Vail Frisco and Edwards Colorado. Specializing in knee hip shoulder elbow hand spine foot and ankle injuries our experience and research have led to significant advances in the fields of orthopaedics and sports medicine. Our clinic treats patients from all walks of life including recreational and professional athletes from all over the world. For information please visit

About Eagle County Paramedic Services
Eagle County Paramedic Services (ECPS) is a full-service Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agency that provides 9-1-1 emergency response inter-facility patient transportation including Paramedic level Critical Care Community Paramedic community events medical support of special events and specialized response teams. ECPS responds to over 4000 requests for service annually and covers approximately 1692 square miles including most of Eagle County and the eastern portion of Garfield County Colorado.