Pre-participation screening – The sports physical therapy perspective

Authors:  Sanders B, Blackburn TA, Boucher B

The sports physical therapist (SPT) is uniquely qualified to participate in the provision of pre-participation physical examinations (PPE). The PPE is recommended prior to athletic participation and required by many jurisdictions. There is little research to support the process and components; however, a number of professional organizations have recommendations that direct the PPE process. This clinical commentary highlights the role of the sports physical therapist and current evidence related to the pre-participation physical examination process. Data sources were limited to include professional positions and peer reviewed publications from 1988 through January 2013. Pre-participation physicals should be useful, comprehensive, and cost effective for the athlete and the health care team. The SPT is a valuable member of the health care team and can be a primary facilitator of the PPE in concert with the physician, athletic trainer, athletic organization administrators, and others. Well-designed and inclusive PPEs can be provided to meet the major objectives of identification of athletes at risk. Controversy continues over the extent of the cardiac screening component as well as other sport or athlete specific components.

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