Aspetar’s Athlete Screening unit provides comprehensive medical and cardiac assessments and is an invaluable service for athletes of all levels. The aim of the health evaluation of athletes is to ensure their safety during sports participation, not only prior to the signing of any new contract with a club or federation but also periodically, in the form of annual check-ups throughout their career.
The most important aspect of this health check is the identification of unknown medical conditions that might place an athlete at risk from participating in Sports. The obvious example of this is an underlying cardiac condition that may place a player at risk of sudden death during exercise. However, there are many other conditions that also warrant regular screening investigations.
For non-professional athletes, a periodic health evaluation that particularly focuses on the cardiovascular assessment provides an opportunity to detect cardiac conditions and risk factors, to mitigate risks during sports participation.
Athlete Screening also provides an opportunity to assess musculo-skeletal issues, whether unreported or known, that may have an influence on the athlete’s ability to train and compete. By also reviewing past injuries and checking compliance with any rehabilitation programmes the physician will be able to plan any interventions deemed necessary with the athlete. Chronic medical conditions are also part of this comprehensive review which could also include a separate nutritional and/or psychological assessment, and advice on medication, referring to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regulations as appropriate.
The content of each medical assessment will be tailored to meet the needs of the individual. However, there are a number of components which are common to most assessments, including:
- Cardiovascular assessment The basic cardiovascular assessment includes:
- Careful evaluation of the personal and family history, a physical examination, and
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) (noninvasive recording of the electrical activity of the heart) Additional non-invasive tests may also be performed routinely or if clinically indicated such as:
- Echocardiography (ultrasound investigation of the heart) and
- Exercise test. Some cases require a more comprehensive investigation of symptoms or abnormal findings with complementary investigations such as:
- 24-hour Holter monitoring (a noninvasive recording of the heart rhythm for 24 hours),
- ABPM (noninvasive recording of the blood pressure for 24 hours), or
- Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
- Medical and injury questionnaire, and visual acuity assessment
- Laboratory tests
- General medical and musculoskeletal examination
A number of other tests can also be performed on site, if requested or indicated, such as:
- Musculoskeletal Radiology (X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Ultrasound scan, DXA bone density or body composition analysis or CT-Scan)
- Isokinetic muscle strength assessment
- Physiotherapy assessment (including functional tests such as joint range of movement, proprioception, jump, and some strength tests)
- Dental assessment