If your child is one of the 45 million kids playing sports in the United States, you’ve probably thought about the many different ways you can prepare them for their chosen sport: conditioning, individual coaching, drills, weight lifting, and practice, practice, practice.
But you may have overlooked one vital piece of preparation: the annual sports physical.
At Physician’s Medical Primary Care, we specialize in providing physical exams to prove that you or your child are healthy and ready to take on the challenges that life has to offer.
Here’s more information on why a sports physical is important and what to expect when you come to the office for your child’s physical.
What is a sports physical?
A sports physical is simply a check-up to determine an athlete’s health and fitness as it relates to participating in a particular sport. During the exam, the doctor will check for any injuries or diseases, such as cardiovascular issues, that could make it unsafe to participate in a sport.
If the doctor finds anything that needs follow-up care, they can begin planning treatment immediately. You should ideally have a sports physical done about six to eight weeks before the season begins to allow time for any treatment or referrals to take place.
There’s always a risk of getting injured no matter what sport your child plays. A physical provides an opportunity to lessen that risk by making sure the athlete’s body is ready for the coming season and there aren’t any family histories of conditions that require attention.
What should you expect?
Your child’s sports physical should include a thorough medical history, including any history of illness and injuries that might keep them from playing sports. They will fill out a health history form as well as a form that asks about their habits and lifestyle choices.
The health history will include questions about breathing, dizziness, headaches, eating disorders, seizures, skin problems, allergies, prior surgeries, and current medications, supplements, and herbal therapies.
Your doctor will ask about a history of hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, Kawasaki disease, syncope (passing out or almost passing out), concussions, and other injuries.
They may also check for a family history of unexpected or unexplained sudden death before age 50, including drowning, unexplained car accidents or sudden infant death syndrome.
An important area the doctor will cover with your child has to do with their cardiovascular history. The doctor will ask about any cardiac murmurs or heart infections that you know about, and they’ll want to know any family history of death from heart problems or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
You should let the doctor know if your child has any history of chest pain, heart palpitations during exercise, or abnormal cardiac testing. If your child feels tired or short of breath more quickly than their peers during exercise, this could also be a warning sign.
What tests will be run?
The visit will also include a physical exam. The provider will check height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse, as well as check for heart and lung function, neurological function (reflexes, coordination, strength), vision, hearing, flexibility, spinal alignment, and more, including hernias. They may also screen cholesterol, do a urinalysis, and get a blood count.
The provider will also make sure your child is up-to-date on immunizations and may order additional tests, such as blood tests or X-rays, if necessary.
If everything looks fine, the provider will give their okay for your child to play sports. They may also recommend modifications, such as carrying an EpiPen® for allergies or an inhaler for asthma.
If you need to get a sports physical for your child, the expert team at Physician’s Medical Primary Care will be happy to help. Just contact our office by phone or with our convenient online scheduler to determine the best time for the appointment.
We’re excited about helping to get your kids ready to play!