GNMS gets free physicals from Emory

Published 10:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2023

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On Tuesday, Emory Healthcare hosted its first free sports physicals for middle school students at Gardner Newman Middle School.

Sharon Williams, manager of business and patient relations at Emory, said the organization has been conducting volunteer sports physicals for over 30 years, usually at all of the high schools every year.

“Coming to the middle schools is a great way for Emory healthcare’s providers and staff to give back to our local community and volunteer to do these free sports physicals for the students every year. We typically do about 1,200 to 1,300 a year for all of the high schools,” Williams said.

At GNMS, over 100 student-athletes came by for a free physical.

“This is the first year that we have done middle school. This is a smaller group because typically sports physicals are done in the spring when they’re getting ready for the next year of sports. These students are all playing fall sports and have not had their physicals yet. So, this is a great way for us to get the middle schools incorporated into the free physicals every year,” Williams said.

Williams said they will be giving free physicals at Long Cane Middle School on Aug. 15. Emory has also reached out to Callaway Middle School to offer their services there as well.

New GNMS athletic director Tia Sheffield said the free physicals removed a burden from parents.

“Sometimes getting physicals is an inconvenience with schedules or life in general. This allows them to have that timeframe to get something for their kids that is free. In this economy, any break is great for the parents,” Sheffield said.

Dr. Mohammed Qureshi said getting a sports physical is extremely crucial in catching any conditions that would preclude someone from wanting to participate in sports.

“We encourage physical activity under the best conditions, and there are certain conditions that can put people at increased risk in participation in sports, such as heart conditions, lung conditions and family histories of certain ailments,” Qureshi said. “Unless someone goes through a thorough physical exam, and we would highly recommend that they abstain from sports until someone takes a look good at them.”

Qureshi said being able to offer their services to middle school students is a fantastic opportunity for parents and student-athletes.

“One of the opportunities we get with sports physicals is being able to promote access to care and education. A lot of conditions can be caught early on and can be treated easily. For example, scoliosis or any cardiac conditions that would pose any threats to them,” Qureshi said. “I used to play high school football and from recollecting my time I really didn’t know anything. I didn’t know what I was doing. So, common conditions like asthma or common skin conditions are important information to be able to relay to young people. It sheds light on not just healthy sports participation, but the field of medicine and taking care of oneself.”

Qureshi said for parents who may be apprehensive able getting their child a physical, the anxiety may be worth it to get their child the care they need early.

“For a lot of parents or patients in general, their worst nightmare would be coming to terms with a new diagnosis. When they’re faced with a new diagnosis, it can riddle them with anxiety or a sense of fear. In educating parents and being able to let them know this condition whether we know about it or not, it still exists and if not caught early it can lead to disastrous outcomes later on in life,” Qureshi said. “I always advise people that while it is anxiety-inducing, knowing what’s going on in your body will help in the long run to get the care you need.”