Athletes from Pine Prairie, Sacred Heart and Ville Platte High wait outside of Health Works Rehab to get their free physicals. Health Works has gotten volunteer health care professionals to come and aid athletes in getting their physicals for the upcoming season for the last 14 years. (Gazette photo by Tracey Jagneaux)
In order to be an athlete on any level, one must be in top physical shape.
And to be an athlete for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association you must prove that you are in top physical shape.
Every year at about this time, athletes from across the state must make an appointment with a physician in order to complete their mandatory LHSAA physical forms so they may participate in any high school sport sanctioned by that organization.
Fortunately for three of the schools in Evangeline Parish, Pine Prairie, Sacred Heart and Ville Platte, finding a physician or physicians to perform those physical exams is easy.
That is because for the fourteenth year in a row Health Works Rehab has organized a number of volunteer physicians, nurses, medical students, and physical therapists to provide physicals free of charge to the athletes of those schools.
During the physical exams, the student-athletes are run through the gamut of tests to make sure there are no abnormalities that would hinder their performance.
“This makes it an easy process for the schools and the athletes,” stated physical therapist David Vidrine. “These volunteers are fantastic, because they are willing to give up their time to come and get this done at one time.”
“To process this many kids takes a lot of effort,” Vidrine continued. “We want to make sure that we catch anything that would send up a red flag before they step out on the field. The first year we did this it took us to almost ten o’clock. Now, we start at five-thirty and finish right around seven.”
To begin, the eyes are checked for any problems in vision. The athletes then have their blood pressure checked. After that, their height and weights are recorded and then they are guided to the physical therapists who check neuro-muscular functions and make sure their are no skeletal problems.
The athletes are then examined by a dentist and finally sent into a room where a physician checks for any other health related issues. Once that is completed, the athletes are set to compete for the upcoming year, unless there are any abnormalities found along the way.
“They are not guaranteed to pass,” said physical therapist Andy Poche. “For example if we pick up on a musculo-skeletal issue, we have an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brunet, here to look at them and clear them or not.”
“If they have a medical issue, the doctors will put on the form not cleared and they would have to see their primary care physician to resolve that issue,” Poche contiued. “It is rare that it happens that way, but it does happen. Probably about one percent have an issue that must be resolved before they can play.”
One thing that can be said, the service provided to these athletes is valuable to the coaches also.
“You would not believe how much of a stress relief it is for our coaching staff,” commented Ville Platte head football coach Jorie Randle. “It gives the kids a chance to take care of this important part of being an athlete and it stops us from having to hold out players, especially football players, until they get this taken care of.”
Sacred Heart head coach Josh Harper added a twist to the three schools coming out at one time to this event.
“What I like about it is that when you get to see the kids from different schools interact with each other,” Harper said. “Our kids are talking to the Ville Platte High kids about the T-Cotton Bowl and to the Pine Prairie kids about the upcoming season. Even the coaches get to visit. It is a great thing for the parish athletes.”