Why your student athlete should see a sports medicine

With the start of school around the corner, now is the time for parents to schedule physicals for their student-athlete. The Arizona Interscholastic Association requires that all student-athletes must have a physical exam completed before participating in team practices or competition.

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions:

Q: We know the AIA requires a sports physical for student-athletes. What is the difference between a sports physical and a regular annual physical exam?

A: The purpose of sports physicals is to help identify any issues (either medical or orthopedic) that would limit or hinder one’s ability to participate in athletics. It differs from a regular physical because during a regular physical, you’re talking a lot more about preventative care, and while these things do come up, the questionnaires that the Arizona Interscholastic Association ask are geared towards one’s personal medical history, as well as injuries and medical issues that would preclude them from sports participation.

Q: And, you provide these sports physicals at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine in Tempe – can you give us some background information on Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine?

A: Sure. We are just under four years in the making here at our Tempe sports location. We have a group of three primary care sports physicians, specialists who have then have gone on to do additional sports training.

We also have our surgical colleagues, orthopedic surgeons who have done their orthopedic residency and specialize in sports medicine.

We work with a variety of teams and organizations such as Arizona State University, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Coyotes and a number of high schools throughout the valley — and a number of us are former athletes ourselves.

Q: You mention working with professional athletes, how does working with high school athletes differ?

A: We treat each individual as if they are a professional athlete. And I think that’s a unique thing about our practice. We’re used to working with high-level athletes on a regular basis, but we take that same level of care and we apply that to the adolescent and the high school athletes that we care for.

Anyone who wants to perform at a high level, you want to work with people that are used to working with that high caliber of athletes.

Q: Let’s say a high school soccer player comes in for a sports physical before the season starts, who will they be seeing?

A: They would likely be scheduled with one of our three primary care sports medicine physicians. That would include myself, Dr. Steve Poon or Dr. Callie Davies. This core group of the three of us, we care for all 650 Division 1 athletes at Arizona State as their primary care doctors.

Q: If that same soccer player has an issue during the season, could they come back and see the same doctor?

A: That’s been one really fantastic benefit of this. A lot of people are not familiar with Mayo Clinic having a sports clinic, especially one that’s so centrally located in Tempe. While we hope to see kids on the athletic fields, they are welcome back whether it’s an acute ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, concussion or anything in between. It’s a very nice entry for mom, dad and the family to the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. Moving forward, all they would need to do is call to make an appointment.

We’re also built for very timely care. the last thing you want is to have an injury and then be told that you’ll be seen in four months. That’s not going to work. And I think we’re built for, in some instances, even same day or next day, but certainly within a few days of getting people in expeditiously.

Q: How much would it cost for a high school athlete to get a sports physical before the season starts?

A: Our price is $25. Some places have gone up to $50 or more. So we’re really able to offer this at a very low entry price. And, that low cost has no bearing the quality of care, we treat everyone with the same level of high care that Mayo Clinic is known for.

(Mayo Clinic photo)

Dr. Anastasi is a primary care physician and sports medicine specialist. He is on the American Board of Family Medicine.

Dr. Anastasi serves as a team physician for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Coyotes, Phoenix Rising Football Club and USA Men’s Junior Basketball.

The Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center provides innovative treatment options to treat everything from simple injuries to the most complex medical cases. Clinical services include physical therapy, diagnostic and treatment imaging and athletic training.