Healthcare Medical Group (HMG), a voluntary association of physicians serving Northeast Arkansas, once again will offer free comprehensive physical exams for high school student athletes in six local school districts in Jonesboro.
HMG is the country’s only provider of free physicals that include advanced health screenings and echocardiograms (ECGs) for high school athletes in Craighead County. Using an ECG as a screening tool, in conjunction with a qualitative exam and review of personal and family history, physicians are better able to detect cardiac abnormalities in young athletes.
“It’s estimated that more than 100 young athletes die each year in sports-related incidents, and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association projects that nearly half of these deaths are attributed to sudden cardiac death,” said Dr. William C. Young, Jonesboro otolaryngologist and president of HMG.
“We established our innovative event in 2008 to ensure that all student athletes receive potentially life-saving ECGs to prevent cardiac incidents. Since then, our group of volunteer doctors has evaluated the health of nearly 5,000 student athletes. Of those, 30 percent have received diagnoses or medical warnings they wouldn’t otherwise have received from traditional physicals.”
The athletic physicals are offered as part of the annual HMG Health & Fitness Expo, a free, two-day event considered the largest and most comprehensive physician-led community health initiative in the country. This year’s event is slated for April 21-22, with student athletic physicals scheduled for April 22.
Each year, HMG physicians volunteer their time alongside the staff of St. Bernards Medical Center and St. Bernards Sports Medicine, working directly with coaches and athletic directors to ensure student athletes take advantage of free exams. This effort benefits not only the athletes, but also their families who don’t have to schedule multiple exams and incur the associated costs, as well as the coaching staff who are provided valuable information regarding the health of their athletes.
“This is the most comprehensive health screening for athletes in the nation and gives us the security of knowing that our athletes are the most well-taken care of group in America,” said Randy Coleman, head football coach at Jonesboro High School. “All communities should adopt this approach – safer athletes provide better athletes.”
Therapy Providers of Arkansas developed its pre-participation physical evaluation for Student Athletes using the collaborative work of the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine. This, coupled with the level of expertise from more than 100 participating physicians, helps identify student conditions that may cause injury or may be disabling or even life-threatening.
During the generally hour and a half long exam, students begin with height, weight and blood pressure screenings, followed by eye exams and screenings by HMG’s ear, nose and throat physicians. After undergoing general medical and musculoskeletal exams, the high school students are given ECGs. Finally, students finish with dental exams and a blood screening checks of glucose, cholesterol and anemia.
Last year HMG added a sickle cell screening to reflect the athletic health guidelines of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), though the NCAA has yet to require ECG screenings.
“It’s evident that we’re doing everything possible to dramatically reduce the chance of cardiac incidents for our athletes,” said Dr. Young. “We challenge communities across the country to adopt a similar approach to ensure the health and wellness of their student athletes.”
The HMG Health & Fitness Expo is an annual two-day event that focuses on the promotion of better health for Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. Scheduled in April each year, the Expo offers free health screenings, physician panel discussions, healthy cooking demonstrations and a kid’s health zone. For more information about the Expo, visit http://www.hmgexpo.com/.
Healthcare Medical Group (HMG) is a voluntary association of physicians serving Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. The association membership is comprised of more than 190 physicians representing more than 35 specialties.