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Why Sports Physicals Are So Important for Kids

August 17, 2017

sports physicalsIt’s the bottom of ninth, two outs, the winning run is on third, and your daughter is coming up to bat. Here’s her chance to win the game, but suddenly something doesn’t feel right. She tells her coach her vision is blurry; she’s having trouble seeing the ball. Coach has no choice but to pull her from the game.

Afterward you find out your daughter has been dealing with her troubled eyesight since her team’s first practice. As a parent you wonder what you could have done. The answer is a sports physical.

Playing a sport is a great way for kids to get active and stay in shape, but you’ll want to make sure there are no underlying health issues before they pick up a ball. Here are some reasons why sports physicals are important for any athlete and what you can expect your physician to cover during the exam.

What is a Sports Physical?

A sports physical will help determine whether it’s safe for your child to participate in a certain sport. It’s best to schedule one before a new season begins. The sports physical is very similar to an annual wellness physical, but the doctor who performs it can be an expert in sports medicine. It can be done by your family doctor or pediatrician and is made up of two parts: medical history and physical exam.

Medical History

The first thing the doctor will assess is medical history. This part of the exam includes questions about:

  • Serious illnesses among family members
  • Previous hospitalizations or surgeries
  • Allergies
  • Past injuries (including concussions, sprains, or bone fractures)
  • Whether you've ever lost consciousness, felt dizzy, had chest pain, or trouble breathing during exercise
  • Medications (both over-the-counter and prescription)

This would also be the time to tell your doctor about any other health issues your child may have. A thorough medical history makes it easier for your pediatrician to find potential problems that may keep your child from playing their sport.

Physical Exam

Once the medical history is complete, the doctor will begin the physical part of the exam which....

  • Recording height and weight
  • Taking a blood pressure and pulse
  • Checking your vision
  • Checking your heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose, and throat
  • Evaluating posture, joints, strength and flexibility

Although most of the exam will be the same for girls and boys, if your child has started or already gone through puberty, the doctor may ask girls and guys different questions. For example, the doctor may ask a girl about her period. A boy will most likely get a genital exam.

The Exam is Over, Now What?

Rarely is a child kept from participating in sports based on their physical. If something does raise a red flag, your pediatrician will want to track it.

You may have to schedule a follow-up appointment, or your doctor may send your child to a specialist. The goal is find the best way to manage the issue while they’re playing.

Things that may prompt follow-up include:

  • How an old injury is healing
  • A high blood pressure reading
  • A failed eye exam

Sports physicals can provide peace of mind for parents whose child wants to play sports. A quick trip to the doctor’s office will allow you, and your son or daughter, to keep their focus on the field. To prepare for your next season; click here to make an appointment for a sports physical.