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  May 1, 2000

Health Care Experts to Offer
Testing for Young Athletes

Sports medicine specialists from the UConn Health Center will run a marathon session on Thursday, June 8, when physicals and National Athletic Testing Protocols will be offered from 2 to 8 p.m. for athletes from local elementary, middle and high schools.

The cost is $15 per athlete. Physicals will meet requirements for the 2000-2001 school year and will include risk assessment, height and weight measurements, vision testing, heart and lung assessment, and more.

The National Athletic Testing Protocol allows local athletes to compare their abilities to others throughout the country. Testing includes: vertical jump, upper body strength, sprinting, flexibility, and agility. Health Center experts will also provide advice on planning summer workout schedules.

The event will take place at the Health Center's Department of Orthopaedics in the 10 Talcott Notch professional building, a few blocks east of the Health Center's main, Farmington Avenue entrance. To register, call (860) 679-7692.

"Young athletes have special health needs. Regular physicals and screenings by specially trained health professionals are essential tools to help children and teens avoid serious injuries," explains Carl Nissen, an orthopaedist at the Health Center.

"Exercise typically comes easily to children because of their naturally high energy and activity levels," he says, "but parents need to be aware of basic safety rules for children when exercising and playing organized sports."

According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, more than three million children experience sports or recreation-related injuries every year. These include injuries caused by trauma - sprains, strains and broken bones - as well as injuries caused by overuse and improper techniques.

To help keep young athletes healthy this summer, Nissen offers the following advice:

  • Warm up: A few minutes of stretching and warm-up exercises will "warm" muscles by increasing blood flow to muscles, and help prevent injuries from muscle strain.

  • Wear protective equipment and make sure it fits properly. This equipment includes mouth guards to protect the tongue and teeth when playing sports in which the mouth could get hit; helmets to protect athletes from head injuries; and elbow, wrist and knee pads to protect bones and joints from fractures and bruises.

  • Know when to say when. Some children and teens seems to be able to run all day, but exercising should stop if children become dizzy, nauseous, severely tired or experience pain. Also, it's important not to play when injured, Nissen says.

Maureen McGuire