Jul 8, 2015What Do Electronic Pre-Participation Physicals Really Reveal?
Collecting data on the long-term effects and frequency of student-athlete injuries has been difficult with the standard pre-participation evaluations (PPEs), which are typically done by hand. Stanford University made those evaluations electronic three years ago and have released an initial study of what the ePPEs can tell us.
As reported at Stanford.edu, Gordon Matheson, a professor of orthopaedic surgery (sports medicine) at Stanford Health Care, led the study, which gathered data from almost 1,700 Stanford athletes. The cloud-based evaluations asked students to identify injuries that caused them to miss playing time. Musculoskeletal injuries, concussions, eating disorders, and illnesses like mononucleosis were most common. A total of 3,126 injuries were reported over the three-year period, with athletes missing an average of 31.4 days of play for each injury.
An early look at the data also suggests that injuries may have a longer recovery time than expected. Eleven percent of students were still experiencing symptoms of injuries from one ePPE to the next. But researchers are still in the early stages of interpreting the data and are trying to identify the most significant findings. They are also calling for more research.
“We know that student-athletes have a lot of injuries from sport participation. But unless we have pooled aggregate data like this, it’s difficult to measure trends and spot areas of concern applied to prevention,” said Matheson. “I’d love to collaborate with other schools. Several thousand groups of data would really help us see what the trends are in sport injury and what’s going on in this population. For example, lingering symptoms might mean the offseason isn’t long enough for full recovery. Or, what are the criteria to use when determining participation status for a student-athlete with characteristics of disordered eating? I think there are findings that could make sports safer.”
The study appears online ahead of print in the American Journal of Sports Medicine and an abstract is available here.