It was last summer when Senior Lake Ridge High School football player Alex Ordaz went in for his annual sports physical and echocardiogram. He and his family never imagined a heart abnormality would be found, but it was. Such a condition can easily prove dangerous to a young athlete.
After all, it was a sophomore at Mansfield Summit High School who fell to the ground at a junior varsity football game that prompted Methodist Mansfield Medical Center to offer student athletes in the Mansfield and Midlothian ISDs the yearly sports physicals.
The young Mansfield student was heading back to the sideline after a play when he fell. Even as athletic trainers from Summit and their opponent, South Grand Prairie, tried to revive him by administering CPR and using an automated external defibrillator, the 6-foot-2 defensive end died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
The sports physicals and echo’s program evolved after that, and Methodist Mansfield President, John Phillips, FACHE said “A tragedy like this can wound a community. It hurts even more knowing it could have been prevented. From that day, Methodist Mansfield decided we weren’t going to let another athlete die. We gathered the team and volunteer champions like cardiologist Alan Taylor, MD, and sports medicine physician Jeff McDaniel, MD, and others to develop the sports physicals and echo’s program for middle and high school athletes.”
Since 2008, the Medical Center in Mansfield has been offering the free screenings.
“We are actively involved in local communities, lending leadership, time and other valuable resources to efforts to improve the quality of life for families,” Phillips said.
While the athletes in the Mansfield and Midlothian school district are screened free of charge, the schools do charge a small fee for physical, which goes back to the athletic department at the school.
All hospital staff and physicians volunteer their time to conduct these tests.
Phillips did add that the UIL sports physical is not intended to replace a student’s regular physical exam with their primary care physician. It does meet UIL requirements to medically clear students before they can participate in any organized sports activity. The echocardiogram procedure is a screening exam and does not rule out all heart-related causes of illness. It is a test in which ultrasound is used to examine the heart to help detect abnormalities and/or other cardiovascular conditions that may affect student athletes.
McDaniel will lead the team of physicians in performing the physicals, along with volunteer nurses, allied health professionals, and independently practicing physicians from Methodist Mansfield. Taylor, also on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield, will perform the echo screenings.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our student athletes to have a quality physical exam,” said Mansfield ISD Athletic Director Philip O’Neal. “The generous donations of time and equipment mean many of our students will have access to comprehensive tests.”
This year Mansfield ISD is charging $10 and Midlothian ISD is charging $20. The hospital will also offer free optional echo screenings to the first 100 students.
- The Mansfield ISD screenings will be this Saturday, April 29, 9 a.m. to noon, Methodist Mansfield, 2700 E. Broad St., Mansfield.
- The Midlothian ISD screenings will be Saturday, May 20, Heritage High School, 4000 FM1387, Midlothian.
Echo screenings are by appointment only by calling 682-242-6401.
“We are proud to give back to the community,” Phillips concluded. “The purpose of the physicals and echocardiograms is to keep our athletes safe, identify any potential issues they might have, and to treat any injuries or illnesses before they enter the playing field. These sports physicals and echo’s potentially identify current heart conditions.”