Preparticipation physical examinations: a collegiate experience

Clin J Sport Med. 1999 Jan;9(1):3-8. doi: 10.1097/00042752-199901000-00002.


Objective: To determine the relative frequency of limiting conditions in collegiate preparticipation physical examinations.

Design: Prospective recording of physical examinations over a 2-year period.

Setting: West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Participants: A total of 596 student athletes, including 405 men and 191 women, involved in 22 sports at the intercollegiate level.

Main outcome measures: The number of all athletes that passed, passed with follow-up or restriction, and failed the preparticipation examinations were recorded along with the specific abnormalities that resulted in follow-up/restriction or failure.

Results: Of the athletes, 512 (85.9%) passed without significant medical or orthopedic abnormalities; 83 (13.9%) passed with a condition requiring follow-up or restriction; and one (0.2%) failed the examination. Medical and orthopedic abnormalities were responsible for 55.4% and 44.6% of the restricted athletes, respectively. Elevated blood pressure was the most common medical condition (47.8%), and knee problems were the most common orthopedic abnormality (43.2%).

Conclusion: Outcome results of collegiate preparticipation physical examinations compare favorably with results in high school students and support the need for detailed examinations before competition. The results also underscore the importance of proper rehabilitation of previous injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Examination*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sports Medicine*