Dr. Robert Dimeff, director of primary care sports medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said a full history and physical examination can help detect problems early, help avoid inflaming old injuries and establish critical baseline information in case of concussions or other injuries.
Dimeff said parents should consider the following screenings and baseline tests for their child:
-- A routine musculoskeletal screening exam to evaluate injuries that may not have fully resolved from previous seasons or that occurred during the summer.
-- Baseline computerized neuropsychological testing programs, such as ImPACT, HeadMinder or CogSport, for athletes participating in contact sports such as football, soccer or hockey or for those who may have had a previous concussion.
-- Vision screenings to identify the need for corrective or protective lenses.
-- It's important to review weight, nutrition, supplements and off-season training with your physician.
-- Make sure immunizations are up to date, including tetanus.
In addition to standard gear, consider new custom bilaminate mouth guards to protect teeth during contact and projectile sports, Dimeff recommended.
"Pay attention to any new signs of cardiopulmonary disease and tell your doctor," Dimeff said in a statement. "Chest pain, pressure or tightness, shortness of breath, palpitations, fainting or near fainting, wheezing or coughing during or after exercise may suggest heart or lung disease that may require further evaluation and treatment."