Pediatricians at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) are now offering pre-participation examinations (PPEs) for pediatric patients as the summer sports season arrives. PPEs, also known as sports physicals, are extremely valuable for young athletes as they provide pediatricians an opportunity to screen for critical physical and emotional factors while also promoting the importance of injury prevention measures.
During a sports physical, pediatricians will review a child’s medical and family history, perform examinations on the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose, throat and vision as well as evaluate the child’s posture, joints, strength and flexibility. Physicians and care teams can also better understand a child’s emotional state and mental health prior to involvement in extracurricular activities.
“On behalf of the AHN Pediatric Institute, we’re strongly encouraging parents and guardians to get their children on the field, the courts or in the pool – research shows a strong connection between increased extracurricular activity with lower incidences of depression and anxiety,” said Joseph Aracri, DO, pediatrician and Chair of AHN Pediatric Institute.
Most children are ultimately given full clearance to participate in sports following their PPEs, but some may be diagnosed with a treatable condition or referred out for additional evaluation by a specialist.
“Although extremely rare, it’s important to note that sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes and in the majority of those cases, it’s likely due to an undiagnosed heart condition exacerbated by exertion,” continued Dr. Aracri. “As part of the sports physical, our providers conduct thorough screenings of the entire cardiovascular system as well as review family or medical history that could predispose them to cardiac complications.”
According to a 2018 review published by clinicians and researchers out of Mayo Clinic Health System, sports-related deaths are mainly caused by coronary artery disease in adults and cardiomyopathy or arrhythmia in youths.
“By simply reviewing a child’s family history alone during an examination, we can detect almost 90 percent of important medical conditions that could interfere with their ability to participate in activities to the best of their abilities,” said Dr. Aracri. “The sports physical is an extremely beneficial visit for young athletes and at a minimum, introduces them to a dedicated care team who can oversee their health for years to come.”
Adolescent well-visits – to ensure immunizations are up-to-date and track growth and development – can also be done simultaneously during a sports physical.
Established AHN Pediatrics patients can make an appointment via MyChart or by calling their respective pediatrician’s office. For all new patients interested in making an appointment, please call 412-DOCTORS.
About the Allegheny Health Network:
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org) is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is composed of 14 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, multiple employed physician organizations, home and community based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more. AHN employs approximately 22,000 people, has more than 2,600 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
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