Student Athletes Must Undergo a Pre–Participation Sports Physical

Student Athletes helped by Emory Orthopedic Doctors

After months of being dormant during the winter, student athletes are anxious to get back in the game. While increased exercise and participation in sports outweigh the risk of injury or illness, it is crucial that every child undergo a pre–participation sports physical before beginning practice.

In the U.S., a pre–participation exam (PPE) is required for student athletes who want to take part in sports and/or sports camps.

Pre-Participation Exam Benefits


  • Identifies potential life-threatening conditions, such as risk of sudden cardiac death
  • Evaluates existing conditions that may need further treatment or monitoring
  • Diagnosis orthopedic conditions that may need physical therapy or other treatments
  • Identifies student athletes at high risk for violence, substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, anemia, asthma, hypertension, and more
  • Reviews history of head injuries or concussion to establish neuropsychological status

Pre-participation Exam Timing

PPEs usually occur six weeks before the start of a sport or camp. Most student athletes are cleared for full participation following a sports physical exam. However, more time may be needed for those who require follow-up care to be cleared from potential complications.

This year, Emory Sports Medicine Center physicians and therapists will again conduct pre-participation exams at several of the more than 20 school’s athletic programs that are supported by Emory Healthcare. Those include Berkmar, Decatur, Johns Creek, Atlanta Girls’, Blessed Trinity and Northview high schools, as well as Pace Academy.

Pre-participation Exam Components

Medical History Review

Parents and student athletes should come prepared to discuss the student’s complete medical history. This can help the doctor identify conditions or ailments that may affect the student’s ability to effectively take part in their sport or activity.

Physical Exam

Many schools, family physicians or pediatricians can perform physical exams, but if you would like a more thorough exam, Emory’s team of sports medicine specialists would appreciate the opportunity to evaluate you or your loved one.

Emory Healthcare has a dedicated Orthopaedics and Spine Center, with locations throughout metro Atlanta. To make an appointment, please call 404-778-3350. Interested to learn more now? Yes, I want to learn more now.


By Dr. Jeff Webb

Jeffrey Webb, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Dr. Webb started practicing at Emory in 2008 after completing a Fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in pediatrics and sports medicine. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Braves. He is also a consulting team physician for several Atlanta area high schools, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, and many other club sports.

Dr. Webb sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. He is currently active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.


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