Each year, thousands of children and teenagers flock to clinics and doctor’s offices to receive their annual sports physical before starting the new school year. While many students may roll their eyes and insist that another checkup is unnecessary, a proper sports physical is an important practice that can identify underlying issues before they cause long-lasting problems or injuries. For the next sports season, make sure your star athlete is on their A-game with the help of a proper physical and bill of clean health.
What is a sports physical?
A sports physical, or a pre-participation physical examination (PPE), is used to ensure a patient is physically able to safely participate in sporting activities. While a physical does not replace an annual checkup, it gives doctors a good indicator of a patient’s current health and wellness status. One of the key features of a sports physical is the focus on previous health history that may impact a patient’s ability to participate in physical activity. The combination of detailed patient history and physical examination provides an overall view of your child’s health and ensures they can play every game at their best.
What can I expect during the physical?
Think of a sports physical as a basketball game with each of the two halves representing different parts of the examination. The first half is all about medical history. During this portion, you may be asked to fill out a form that asks for family history, current medications, or past injuries. It’s of the utmost importance to be as honest and detailed as possible during the first half to ensure your doctor is given a clear picture of your young athlete’s current health status. The second half of the game is the physical examination. During this portion, your doctor will record height and weight, check blood pressure, and perform tests to evaluate vision and mobility skills. Medical professionals may also ask personal questions surrounding puberty or related to alcohol or drug use, sexual activity, and dietary supplements. Just like in the first half, it’s important to be as honest as possible as these factors can have a large impact on a young person’s health. After the ‘game’ is over, your doctor will either sign off on your star athlete’s clean bill of health or request a follow-up appointment or tests to identify specific medical problems.