I just finished up a clinical rotation in Montgomery, Alabama. The patient population I saw was a mix of workers comp, outpatient ortho, and sports. My CI happened to have the contract with two local universities. Each year, at the beginning of the fall semester, the athletes at those schools are required to have physicals to ensure their health before their respective seasons begin. To speed up the process, various stations were set up: height/weight, vision, general medical, and ortho. I worked with some orthopedic surgeons, performing ortho screens, to assess for any orthopedic impairments and pathologies.
Due to the large amount of student-athletes, we had to perform the ortho screens as fast as possible, while still testing the athletes' musculoskeletal system to ensure safety. We first obtained an ortho history from each individual, so we could perform a more extensive examination of the affected area. Our general screen usually included a cervical clearing test (along with mytomal/dermatomal assessment), AROM of the shoulder followed by resisted muscle testing, spinal flexion/extension overpressure, single leg hopping, deep squat with either a "duck-walk" or twisting the hips on stable ankles (clears the ankles and stresses the rest of the lower extremity as well!), and push-ups to check the elbows and shoulders for apprehension.
It was a great experience working with the ortho surgeons! I was able to look into their reasoning behind using one test versus another when examining a joint. I highly recommend being involved with the physicals of an athletic organization or school if given the opportunity.
James Heafner DPT, Chris Fox DPT, and Brian Schwabe DPT, CSCS are recent graduates of Saint Louis University's Program in Physical Therapy.