Explore This Treatment Program

Learn about the Athlete Pulmonary Performance Program from Christina Scirica, MD, MPH, the program's director and a provider in Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at MGHfC.

Overview

The Athlete Pulmonary Performance Program (AP3) at MassGeneral Hospital for Children provides cutting edge pulmonary care for active youth, from elite athletes to those who exercise just for fun.

Our AP3 team provides comprehensive pulmonary evaluations that are individualized to the needs of our patients, whether they have difficulty breathing with exercise or simply want to improve their athletic performance.  Our providers are experts in pulmonary medicine and exercise physiology.  They are knowledgeable and experienced in the diagnosis and care of respiratory and other conditions that can impact exercise, as well as in helping athletes improve their respiratory and overall health to optimize fitness and performance.

Our state-of-the-art pulmonary exercise laboratory offers pulmonary function testing and metabolic cardiopulmonary exercise testing on a stationary bike or treadmill, which can provide critical information about a patient’s cardiovascular and pulmonary responses to exercise.  These tests can aid in the diagnosis of conditions that might be affecting an individual’s ability to exercise, as well as determine an individual’s overall level of fitness.  Each athlete’s personal anaerobic threshold and peak VO2 (sometimes called VO2max) can be used by athletes and coaches/trainers to design individualized training plans to improve performance.

Because many factors can affect exercise, the AP3 program takes a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to care.  In addition to evaluating and treating pulmonary and other medical conditions that impact exercise, we consider other aspects of health that can affect exercise such as nutrition, hydration, rest and emotional wellbeing.  We collaborate closely with other experienced specialists including sports nutritionists, sports psychologists, speech pathologists and orthopedic surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital and beyond to provide the best and most comprehensive care possible to each patient. 

Who Should Come to Our Program?

  • Anyone experiencing respiratory symptoms during or after exercise. These symptoms include:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest tightness or pain
    • Wheezing or stridor (loud gasping)
    • Generalized fatigue
  • Individuals with a prior diagnosis of any respiratory condition that affects their ability to exercise in some way. Such conditions might include:
    • Asthma
    • Paroxysmal vocal cord dysfunction (or vocal cord dysfunction)
    • Environmental allergies
    • Pectus excavatum or carinatum
    • Tracheomalacia or bronchomalacia
    • Cystic Fibrosis
    • History of prematurity
    • Any other condition that affects lung function or exercise.
  • Any athlete who would like to improve their fitness or performance.

Note: Individuals must be under the age of 19 to be seen in our program.

Meet the Team