Student football players from New York City high schools took advantage of an extensive medical screening at the Hospital for Special Surgery. The hospital provides the team doctors for the New York Football Giants and other professional sports teams.
Medical clearance is mandatory for all New York City high school students wishing to play football, and 136 students from 30 New York City schools showed up for the health screening on a Saturday in August.
The program aims to ensure that student athletes are fit to play before the games begin, regardless of ability to pay. During football season, doctors will be available to see students at a special weekly clinic at Special Surgery. Program leaders say it’s a win-win situation.
“Meeting a critical need in the community, it gives Hospital for Special Surgery the chance to provide a valuable service,” said Dr. James Kinderknecht, a sports medicine physician and medical director of the Public School Athletic League Football Clinic at the hospital.
More than 20 sports medicine doctors and physical therapists participated in the health screening. They took the students’ medical history; performed a thorough physical exam, checking their heart, lungs and vision; tested strength and flexibility; assessed their posture and balance; even measured how far they could jump.
Doctors also checked the young athletes for previous injuries, giving them advice on how to stay safe on the field and avoid future problems. Some students were prescribed exercises, while others were advised on icing, taping and bracing to prevent further injury.
Many students said it was exciting to know they were being screened at the same hospital that provides care for elite professional athletes. For others, the free screening may have meant the difference between playing the sport or sitting on the sidelines.
“Some students would not go out for athletics because they don’t have health insurance and could not afford the required pre-season physical,” said Jerry Epstein, PSAL Football Supervisor. “The medical screening at Special Surgery is the best thing I’ve been associated with. I don’t think the students would get an exam this thorough anywhere else. And it gives the kids of New York City the opportunity to have the same doctors who provide care for the New York Giants and the Mets.”