Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital Provides Free Screenings to Local Student Athletes
Risk Factors for Sudden Cardiac Death, Musculoskeletal Issues Evaluated
Darby, PA (June 15, 2015): For the eighth consecutive year, Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital collaborated with the William Penn School District to sponsor free screenings for student athletes from Penn Wood High School on June 3. Fifty-eight students were evaluated for sudden cardiac death risk factors and musculoskeletal issues while fulfilling their PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) pre-participation physical exam requirements for the 2015-16 school year.
The students received a screening that included an electrocardiogram (EKG), a focused history and physical examination with an attending cardiologist, as well as a musculoskeletal evaluation with a physical therapist. Of the 58 students, 13 received recommendations for home exercise programs and seven were referred for follow-up for orthopedic and musculoskeletal issues. Five students had echocardiograms done based on EKG findings, but none required additional cardiac follow-up.
“The students benefit from first-class comprehensive cardiac and orthopedic evaluations that they may not otherwise seek out and our team of healthcare providers see first-hand their impact on the community,” says Martin O’Riordan, a cardiologist who started this program. “The screening program is a rewarding experience for all involved.”
Dr. O’Riordan proposed the free screening program to the School District in 2007 after months of supplemental training with the Italian Olympic Committee’s cardiology division. The screening program evolved to include a focus on musculoskeletal issues among young athletes.
“When the cardiac screening opportunity was brought to my attention; I thought it was a wonderful opportunity,” says Rap Curry, athletic director for the William Penn School District. “To ensure the student participation I suggested encompassing the PIAA (Pennsylvania, Interscholastic Athletic Association) pre- participation physical examination.
“The combination of both examinations would entice those student athletes who most likely are training and competing year-round, which in return would probably guarantee participation from the student athletes who are most at risk to sudden cardiac stress situation. This program has been a true blessing and a wonderful example of community partnership.”
In the United States, a young competitive athlete dies suddenly every three days. The average age when sudden cardiac death occurs in young athletes is 17.5 years. A screening can help improve disease detection.