Game on: Sports physicals clear cadets for NCAA play
August 18, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Aug. 18, 2011) -- Midway through Reorganization Week, Mologne Cadet Health Clinic was the site for NCAA sports physicals Aug. 11 for more than 250 cadets ready to represent West Point on the fields of friendly strife.
Class of 2015 cadets comprised about 98 percent of those screenings, as well as those who are new to NCAA athletics or are returning to their sport after surgery.
Lt. Col. Steven Svoboda serves as head team physician for all Corps Squad sports and oversees this whole process"a long-standing tradition during Reorganization Week. While other universities may spread out physicals over a period of months and by individual appointments instead of groups, Svoboda said there are benefits to the way West Point does it.
"This way brings all the doctors to the cadets at one time and doesn't impact their already tight schedule in any off-putting way," he said.
NCAA regulations cite that all athletes must receive a physical administered by a qualified medical examiner prior to participating in any organized sport. For new cadets, the physical is practically a triple check, since they received medical clearance first through the admissions process then a second screening on Reception Day. Injuries may occur during the rigors of summer military training, and this allows medical personnel to revisit and update their medical records.
West Point personnel and cadets receive all of their medical and orthopaedic surgical care from Keller Army Community Hospital, which is the home of the John A. Feagin, Jr. Sports Medicine Fellowship.
To complete this volume of physicals in one day, the Keller orthopaedic surgeons with the Feagin Sports Medicine orthopaedic fellows enlisted the help of several fellows from the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship Program from Fort Belvoir, Va.
Col. Kevin DeWeber, the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship director from Fort Belvoir, said this has been an ongoing collaboration for about 15 years. The board-certified physicians are completing a yearlong fellowship in sports medicine, DeWeber said, and now get to put their training to work at West Point.
"This is a good practical application for them, although most of them have done a lot sports physicals in the past and are pretty good at it," DeWeber said. "This is probably the first NCAA sports physical exposure they will get."
DeWeber said the fellows also perform physicals each year at Georgetown University, American University and the U.S. Naval Academy, among others.
Members of the Army Track and Field, Cross Country and Women's Volleyball teams were among the first to arrive at the clinic where the process began with initial inprocessing, height and weight measurements and blood pressure screenings.
"The physician may listen to someone's heart for a murmur or something that may have been missed at a previous physical exam process," Svoboda said. "They may have a cadet do a squat or some movement that could help diagnose a murmur. Typically, you're trying to find that one in a thousand that has a latent developmental process that, given the right conditions, may be bad for them to be playing sports in extreme heat or other adverse conditions."
Robby Vought, ODIA athletic trainer, said cadets also receive an orthopedic screening, which is a basic head-to-toe musculoskeletal examination.
"That'll make sure all their bones and joints check out, see if there are any complications from old injuries or if they've had any problems from prior surgeries," Vought said. "This is also the time to find any new injuries, most likely from cadets coming out of Beast (Barracks)."
Navy Ensign Robert Putko, a medical student from the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md., is on a month long elective with the Orthopaedic Service at Keller and assisted in the conduct of the orthopaedic screening by having cadets perform basic hand, arm and leg movements.
"We can test the major muscles and nerves of the body in a broad sense and if we see any red flags or weaknesses, then we'll perform a more focused exam on that," he said.
Members of the Army Football Team received their physicals weeks earlier because of their training schedule, with nearly 80 new cadets medically cleared at Michie Stadium by the Primary Care Sports Medicine Office at Keller.
"With the combination of two world-class sports medicine fellowship programs in orthopaedic surgery and primary care, we are able to provide the best support possible to our cadet athletes and help sow the seeds that 'will bear the fruits victory' called for by Gen. Douglas MacArthur," Svoboda said.