Athens hospital provides free physicals to more than 700 student athletes


Oconee High School athlete Karly Wells, a diver on the school’s swim team, is examined at Piedmont Athens Regional

Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center recently wrapped up its second-annual sports physicals event, which provided more than 700 high school student athletes in the region sports physicals for the upcoming school year at no cost.

“In order to compete in high school athletics, these students are required to complete a pre-participation sports physical exam,” said Katie Terrell, an athletic trainer at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center who helped to coordinate the event. “Last year, we held one single event, which was the first of its kind for our team, and we were so excited to volunteer our time once again to ensure these students completed this important state requirement.”

This year, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Terrell and the sports medicine team completed the more than 700 physicals over the course of eight weeks to ensure they were maintaining social distancing guidelines. During last year’s event more than 540 student athletes received physicals.

“Each week, we scheduled a small group of student athletes from schools in our area to come for their physical,” Terrell said. “Students who attended received a screening of height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure and eyes. They then also received an orthopedic screening and spent some time with one of our physicians.”

This whole process is a requirement of the Georgia High School Athletic Association (GHSA) and aims to help identify student athletes who may be at higher risk for injuries or other health conditions prior to competing.

Understanding that there were hundreds of student athletes in the area who required their sports physical exams, Terrell says her team wanted to lend a hand to their community. Providers from Piedmont Athens Regional’s Orthopedic Sports Medicine Program volunteered their time to complete the exams each week. 

“These students work so hard throughout the school year. We really wanted to pitch in and help these kids succeed,” Terrell said. Though last year’s one-day event was fun, spreading out these physicals throughout the summer allowed us to provide even more for these amazing, hard-working athletes!”

In addition scheduling physicals to comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) social distancing guidelines, Piedmont’s Orthopedic Sports Medicine team has also implemented a number of new processes, including a new visitor policy and a mask requirement, to ensure a safe environment for student athletes receiving physicals and other care.

Schools involved in the hospital’s sports physicals event included 10 high schools in the area, all of which partner with the Orthopedic Sports Medicine Program for athletic training and other sports medicine services.

Piedmont Athens Regional’s Orthopedic Sports Medicine Program, which first opened the doors of its new 24,000-square-foot facility located on the hospital’s Oconee Health Campus in October 2019, provides advanced orthopedic care and surgical services, as well as care for all sports-related injuries. The new building also houses Piedmont Athens Regional’s rehabilitation services and includes an outdoor rehabilitation space.

For more information about Piedmont Athens Regional’s Orthopedic Sports Medicine Program, visit piedmont.org.

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