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Arizona Lottery and Banner Health Help Hundreds of Underserved Student Athletes Receive Free Sports Physicals and Concussion Testing

Banner’s new “Game On: Youth Athlete Support Fund” covers the costs of sports physicals and concussion testing, playing a critical role in young athletes’ well-being

       Injury rates can decrease by up to 50% when preventative programs are implemented

PHOENIX (May 9, 2022) Hundreds of young athletes in southern Arizona received free sports physicals and concussion testing on Saturday, May 7, at the University of Arizona Indoor Sports Center, thanks to Banner Health Foundation and the Arizona Lottery.

The Tucson event was made possible by a $50,000 Gives Back Sponsorship from the Arizona Lottery to Banner Health Foundation, the charitable arm of Banner Health.

“We are proud to assist Banner Health in their efforts to ensure young athletes in underserved communities get the same level of care as any others,” said Arizona Lottery Public Information Officer John Gilliland. “The ‘Game On’ Youth Athlete Support Fund is the very type of program that our Gives Back sponsorships are designed to support. These sponsorships are funded with Arizona Lottery marketing dollars that, instead of being used in traditional advertising campaigns, are used to help non-profits across our state accomplish their missions while helping us to tell our story.”

The funds helped cover the costs of sports physicals and concussion testing for underserved high school athletes through Banner’s “Game On: Youth Athlete Support Fund.” The Banner – University Medicine Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine and Concussion team provided the following services to more than 500 young athletes:  

  • Sports Physicals: Preliminary assessments are required across Arizona for middle and high-school students to participate in athletics, yet, many parents cannot afford to pay for them.
  • ImPACT Testing: Concussion testing plays a critical role in a young athlete’s well-being and cognitive development. Any sport is prone for head injury and the prevalence of this is an essential test for safe performance.

Banner Health is expanding Arizona’s youth sports medicine services with outreach to underserved communities across the state. Kids under 18 are at risk of concussion, especially if they play contact sports, such as football, soccer, hockey, wrestling and cheerleading. In fact, nearly one in four American teens has suffered at least one concussion. A 2021 study by the American Academy of Orthopaedics revealed that head injuries during sports activities have increased more than 200% among female athletes between the ages of 14 and 18. In February, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute released a study showing that kids who've suffered a concussion are at heightened risk of mental health issues.

Evan Lederman, M.D., Chief of Sports Medicine for Banner Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic and Steven M. Erickson, M.D., medical director for Banner Sports Medicine and Concussion Specialists, worked together to spearhead preventative care for student athletes.

“Injuries are an inherent part of any youth sports program, but injury rates can be decreased by up to 50% if preventative programs are implemented,” Dr. Lederman said. “Our goal is to expand access to sports physicals and concussion testing, especially to student athletes who can’t afford the out-of-pocket expenses for these assessments.”

Dr. Erickson explained that Banner assembled a team of sports medicine and concussion specialists who take a comprehensive approach to concussion care by providing baseline concussion testing for children and adults to identify neurocognitive, balance, fine motor and visual integration issues.

“Concussion baseline testing plays a critical role in a young athlete’s well-being and is invaluable when sports concussions occur,” Dr. Erickson said. “While sports-related concussions are more common in contact sports, they can occur with any activity. We are very grateful to the Arizona Lottery for recognizing the need to help student athletes overcome economic barriers to these important assessments.”