Hundreds of Tucson high school athletes received free sports physicals and concussion testing last weekend as part of a joint effort by the Banner Health Foundation and Arizona Lottery.

The event took place May 7 at the University of Arizona Indoor Sports Center as part of the foundation’s Game On: Youth Athlete Support Fund. The program covers the cost of physicals and concussion testing for students in underserved communities.

Game On was established about 18 months ago to expand youth sports medicine services in the state by adding outreach to underserved communities. In March, the Arizona Lottery presented the foundation with a $50,000 check to provide physicals and concussion testing for more than 1,000 high school athletes across the state.

The efforts were spearheaded by Dr. Evan Lederman, Chief of Sports Medicine for Banner Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic, and Dr. Steven M. Erickson, medical director for Banner Sports Medicine and Concussion Specialists.

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“Injuries are an inherent part of any youth sports program, but injury rates can be decreased by up to 50% if preventative programs are implemented,” Lederman said in a news release. “Our goal is to expand access to sports physicals and concussion testing, especially to student athletes who can’t afford the out-of-pocket expenses for these assessments.”

More than 500 student-athletes from Tucson High, Pueblo, Palo Verde, Sabino and Rincon/University turned up at the UA campus for the event, with services provided by the Banner-University Medicine Orthopedics, Sports Medicine and Concussion team.

Sports physicals are required across the state for middle and high school students to participate in sports. The cost can be prohibitive for many families. At CVS, sports physicals start at $69. At Banner health centers and urgent care facilities, sports physicals are available for $25 regardless of insurance.

Princeton and Omias Reed get their vision tested with the help of a Banner-University Medicine Ortho team member at the Banner Sports Medicine Student Athlete Assessment Event on Saturday, May 7 at the University of Arizona Indoor Sports Center in Tucson. The Arizona Lottery’s $50,000 Gives Back Sponsorship to Banner Health’s new “Game On: Young Athletes Support Fund” helped pay for sports physicals and concussion testing for underserved high school students who would otherwise be unable to pay for these services and safely compete with their fellow students.

Immediate post-concussion assessment and cognitive testing, also called ImPACT testing, is a computer-based assessment tool that’s used to compare a person’s neurocognitive state before a concussion occurs. Kids under the age of 18 are at risk of concussion, especially if they play contact sports like football, soccer, hockey, wrestling, cheerleading and more. A “baseline” test taken when athletes are healthy helps identify neurocognitive, balance, fine motor and visual integration issues when athletes are hit.

“Concussion baseline testing plays a critical role in a young athlete’s well-being and is invaluable when sports concussions occur,” Erickson said in the release. “While sports-related concussions are more common in …….


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