The Key to Staying in the Game

Whether you’re aiming to excel on the court, field, or track, sports can be your gateway to achieving personal goals and building lifelong connections. But that winning feeling can be sidelined by injury. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a newbie, read on to find out how to stay and play.

Why is Injury Screening Important?

According to Doctors of Physical Therapy Brody Rapp, PT, DPT, OCS, and Nick Huber, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, an injury screening is a comprehensive assessment conducted by a qualified healthcare professional. It goes beyond a simple check-up and aims to identify any underlying conditions or risk factors that could predispose you to sports injuries.

Huber says, “Brody and I work with athletes of all ages. So many times, an athlete comes to us after they have experienced a very preventable injury. We continue to work daily to make injury screening a more common practice to build strength in problem areas before an injury occurs.”

Rapp and Huber have specialized training not only as movement experts but also in understanding the demands of the game. They provide some examples of how injury screenings are beneficial:

  • Early Detection: Screenings can uncover hidden health issues, such as musculoskeletal imbalances or previous injuries, that may limit performance or increase the risk of further injury. Early detection allows for proper treatment and management, preventing complications down the road.
  • Reduced Injury Risk: Screening can help identify factors such as muscle weakness, inflexibility, or poor coordination, which can help create a personalized training plan. This proactive approach significantly reduces the chance of sustaining a sports injury.
  • Improved Performance: Screenings assess strengths, weaknesses, and movement patterns. This information is used to design training programs that target specific areas for improvement, enhance performance, and maximize potential.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing you’ve been thoroughly evaluated by a healthcare professional provides confidence. You can train and compete with the assurance that you’ve taken steps to minimize your injury risk and optimize your performance.

What Does an Injury Screening Involve?

Rapp outlines the components of an injury screening. “Assessments vary depending on the athlete’s age, sport, and medical history, but typically include some key elements:”

  • Medical History Review: Discussing past medical history, including surgeries, injuries, or ongoing health conditions.
  • Physical Examination: Assessing height, weight, posture, range of motion in the joints, muscle strength, flexibility, and balance.
  • Fitness Assessment: Evaluating cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility, depending on the sport.

Who Should Get Injury Screening?

Injury screening is your body’s pre-game warm-up. Young athletes and seasoned competitors alike benefit from the identification of weaknesses before they turn into major setbacks. They are particularly important for:

  • Young Athletes: Huber emphasizes, “Injury screenings for young athletes can prevent growth plate injuries and develop arm-strengthening plans for sports like baseball, where overhead throwing stresses the shoulder, arm, and elbow.”
  • Athletes Starting a New Sport: For newcomers, screenings can identify underlying conditions that need addressing before training begins.
  • Athletes Returning from Injury: Post-recovery screenings ensure you’re fully healed and ready to return to play safely.
  • Athletes in High-Impact Sports: Sports like football, basketball, and gymnastics have higher injury risks. Regular screenings help mitigate these risks.

How to Get an Injury Screening?

“Illinois is a direct access state,” says Rapp. “You can call us to set up an injury screening for yourself, your child, or even an entire sports team. We identify deficits, assess risks, and develop a treatment plan, whether it’s a strengthening program or physical therapy.”

PTS is committed to promoting safety and optimal performance in sports. We encourage you to consult with a physical therapist to discuss the benefits of injury screening and find a qualified provider in your area. If you are in central Illinois, schedule yours at 

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Play safe and stay in the game!

Brody Rapp, PT, DPT, OCS
Nick Huber, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

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