(Photo | Courtesy of The Center Foundation)
The Center Foundation’s OK to Play initiative encourages teens to visit their primary care provider for an annual check-up (also known as a well child visit), rather than having a standalone sports physical to be ready for team sports and activities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the importance of annual well child visits over sports physicals largely due to the expanded scope of the check-up, which includes physical and developmental assessments, preventative care plans and important conversations with teens about stress, anxiety and risky behaviors.
The Oregon Schools Activities Association (OSAA) requires that students provide completed School Sports Pre-Participation Examination paperwork prior to participating in OSAA sanctioned sports. The Oregon Health Authority, through the Coordinated Care Organizations, aims to increase well child visits in teens in order to achieve a higher standard of healthcare and establish good health practices as they move toward adulthood. Students having an annual well child visit with their primary care provider achieve both of these objectives in one important check-up.
“Having a sports physical as a standalone visit with a provider that you don’t usually see has its limitations,” says Donna Mills, executive director for Central Oregon Health Council. “A sports physical is a screening tool for sports participation, but should not be a replacement for an overall health and wellness check-up. Annual check-ups include preventative health and immunizations, vision and hearing screenings, growth and developmental milestones and important discussions about stress, anxiety and depression. For optimal health, teens should have a check-up with a primary care provider each year.”
Most insurance plans cover well child visit annually, including the Oregon Health Plan (OHP), while standalone sports physicals are limited in scope and an additional cost to families.
“The Center Foundation has been providing free medical care on the field of play for student-athletes for nearly 20 years,” said Sonja Donohue, executive director for The Center Foundation. “Knowing that students have benefited from a comprehensive health and wellness exam prior to participating in sports, provides more robust care at no additional cost. Our goal is to ensure students and their families are aware of this incredible benefit.”
As part of the program, The Center Foundation is coordinating outreach to pediatric and primary care physicians throughout Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties. This initiative is provided by grant funding from the Central Oregon Health Council and includes providing materials, messaging and clearance forms to student-athletes and their parents. Many physicians and clinics throughout Central Oregon have committed to the OK to Play initiative and the higher standard of care for Central Oregon teens.