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Doctors say sports physicals before school starts are vital for student athletes

(WZTV)

A sports physical is often an afterthought when it comes to back-to-school preps, but it's against Tennessee law to participate in high school sports without one.

Staci Sulander ran track and cheered through high school. Now working full time after college, she noticed something's not right with her left knee.

"It was sore and achy for a really long time and finally people I was working with got tired of me complaining about it," Sulander said.

Dr. Amanda Martin is Sulander's Orthopedic Surgeon and is also teaching Sulander better exercise techniques to keep her other knee from having the same problems.

She's a TriStar Centennial Medical Center Sports Medicine Physician at Elite Sports Medicine and Orthopedics.

"We want every child to participate in sports," Martin said. "It lowers their rate of trouble, drug use, alcohol use, teen pregnancy. The statistics are through the roof on why it's important. Therefore, we want you to be safe in doing it."

While it doesn't seem like a major event, Dr. Martin said getting a physical before playing any sport is vital and could make the difference between life and death for a student athlete.

Heart problems and brain injuries are found and knowing a student's history could raise a flag for other conditions.

"Other things that can be found are asymmetry, ligament injuries; things that nobody really knew," Martin said.

Finding these health problems doesn't mean the athlete can't play. It may just mean the condition needs monitored.

In Sulander's case, she wonders if just a simple change in her technique years ago could have saved her knee.

"I could have probably caught it earlier and started strengthening before it was so far gone that I had to get surgery done," Sulander said.

Dr. Martin said injuries are very likely to happen if your child plays sports, but that beats the alternative of not being involved at all.

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