Game On: Youth Athlete Support Fund brings free assessments to high school athletes
Free physicals and baseline concussion
testing events were held at Tempe High
School, Camelback High School, and
the University of Arizona Indoor Sports
Center in April and May.
Nearly 700 high school athletes in the Valley of the Sun and Tucson received free sports physicals and baseline concussion testing this spring, thanks to Banner Sports Medicine and charitable partners including the Arizona Lottery, Phoenix Suns Charities, Arizona Coyotes, Elan Financial Services, Tucson Conquistadores, Tucson Roadrunners, Tony and Milena Astorga, and many individual donors.
Free physicals and baseline concussion testing events were held at Tempe High School, Camelback High School, and the University of Arizona Indoor Sports Center in April and May. Student athletes were invited to come get their required pre-participation sports physicals in time for summer training and the fall 2022 sports season.
The events were made possible by gifts to the Banner Health Foundation’s Game On: Youth Athlete Support Fund, which aims to remove barriers to participation such as cost or access, particularly for underserved youth, and to educate all athletes about preventing sports-related injuries, particularly concussions. Kids under 18 are at risk of concussion, especially if they play contact sports, such as football, soccer, hockey, wrestling, and cheerleading. In fact, nearly one in four American teens has suffered at least one concussion. A 2021 study by the American Academy of Orthopaedics revealed that head injuries during sports have increased more than 200% among female athletes ages 14-18. In February, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute released a study showing that kids who have suffered a concussion are at heightened risk for mental health issues.
Student athletes were invited to come
get their required pre-participation
sports physicals in time for summer
training and the fall 2022 sports season.
Evan Lederman, M.D., Chief of Sports Medicine for Banner Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic and Steven M. Erickson, M.D., medical director for Banner Sports Medicine and Concussion Specialists, worked together to spearhead preventative care for student athletes.
“Injuries are an inherent part of any youth sports program, but injury rates can be decreased by up to 50% if preventative programs are implemented,” Dr. Lederman said. “Our goal is to expand access to sports physicals and concussion testing, especially to student athletes who can’t afford the out-of-pocket expenses for these assessments.”
Dr. Erickson explained that Banner assembled a team of sports medicine and concussion specialists who take a comprehensive approach to concussion care by providing baseline concussion testing for children and adults to identify neurocognitive, balance, fine motor and visual integration issues.
“Concussion baseline testing plays a critical role in a young athlete’s well-being and is invaluable when sports concussions occur,” Dr. Erickson said. “While sports-related concussions are more common in contact sports, they can occur with any activity. We are very grateful to our charitable partners for recognizing the need to help student athletes overcome economic barriers to obtaining these important assessments.”