The Importance of School Sports Physicals

School sports are a great way for kids to keep fit and to develop teamwork skills that will serve them all through life. No matter the sport, all involve strenuous activity, so it’s important that your child is physically ready to train and compete.

A school sports physical, also called a pre-participation exam (PPE), will help determine if your child is healthy enough to participate in sports safely and minimize the risk of sports-related injuries. Most schools require a PPE before a student is allowed to participate in sports, but even if it isn’t required, most doctors strongly advise getting one.

Reasons Physicals are Recommended for All Student Athletes:

  • A sports physical can help identify medical conditions and issues that may affect your child’s ability to play his or her sport safely. Examples could include irregular heartbeat, certain lung conditions, joint instabilities, or a tendency towards heat illness.
  • Some medical conditions, such as asthma or allergies, may require a treatment plan before or during sports activity. A physical can help identify these conditions, so steps can be taken to get a plan in place before the start of the season.
  • Past injuries, such as concussions, sprains and fractures, are strong predictors of future sports injuries. If an existing injury or potential problem is identified during a sports physical, action can be taken to properly rehabilitate the injury and reduce the risk of future ones.
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The medical professional performing the exam can provide you and your child with guidance on injury prevention, such as the use of protective equipment. He or she can identify risk factors that are linked to specific sports, such as concussions in football.

What’s Involved in a School Sports Physical?

The specifics can vary depending on the provider performing the exam and the sport involved, but the two main parts of a sports physical are medical history and a physical exam.

Medical history is an important factor in identifying conditions that might affect your child’s ability to participate in sports. Be prepared to discuss a variety of issues, including::

  • Family history of serious medical conditions and illnesses
  • Immunization status
  • Past and current medical conditions
  • Past injuries
  • Previous surgeries or hospitalizations
  • Episodes of dizziness, fainting, chest pain or trouble breathing during physical activity
  • Menstrual history
  • Medications taken (over-the-counter, prescription, and supplements)

The physical exam helps determine your child’s general health, fitness level, physical maturity, and present medical conditions or injuries. This may include an evaluation of:

  • Height and weight
  • Heart (blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm)
  • Vision
  • Lungs
  • Ears, nose and throat
  • Abdomen
  • Posture, joints, strength and flexibility

When Should Your Child Get His or Her Sports Physical?

Check with your child’s coach for due dates and all required forms. Typically, a sports physical should be completed about six weeks before the start of the athletic season. This allows time to follow up on any health issues identified during the physical so your child doesn’t have to sit out part of the season or miss valuable training time.

Twin Rivers Urgent Care can be your go-to facility for school sports physicals. There’s no appointment needed, so just walk into any our of locations and we’ll get your child ready for a winning season without delay!