Record number of student athletes attend free sports physicals

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More than 280 students from Libby and Troy — up from 200 last year — attended free sports physicals performed by clinicians from the Northwest Community Health Center on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9.

Northwest CHC has been holding the sports physicals since 2010 in order to make it easier for students to participate in sports regardless the economic situation of their families, according to an Northwest CHC press release. It is also meant to promote student athlete health.

“Parents tell us every year how much they appreciate the free clinic. It’s not cheap to play sports, and being able to save money at the start of school sometimes makes the difference,” Joe Chopyak, PA-C, the medical director for the CHC, is quoted in the press release for saying.

The press release also noted the benefits of participation in sports for children.

Chopyak referenced a CDC recommendation that school-age children get at least an hour a day of vigorous physical activity. Increased exercise is linked by the CDC to reduced risk of developing chronic adult diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and muscle and bone disease.

Injury prevention is also key, and Chopyak reminded parents to not ignore their children’s’ complaints of pain related to physical activity, according the the press release.

“It’s always worth a call to your doctor’s office if what seems to be a simple injury doesn’t get better quickly,” he said.

A school-based clinic is offered Thursdays at Libby High School by the CHC’s Kayla Nagy, PA-C. Parents must sign consent-to-treat forms and are encouraged to attend those appointments.

In September, medical staff at the CHC will participate in a program to help identify and appropriately manage mild traumatic brain injuries commonly seen in student athletes. Tony Fantozzi, PA-C, at the CHC, will present management strategies to improve the recognition of these injuries and teach the staff how to advise parents and coaches about a return to athletics following an injury.

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