Sports physicals, also known as preparticipation physical examinations (PPE), help determine if your child is healthy enough to participate in a specific sport.
There are two main steps in a sports physical: going over medical history and performing a physical exam.
The Medical Exam
The doctor will go over an athlete’s family medical history and see if there are any red flags to worry about. Here are some typical topics they will look into:
- Serious family illnesses
- An athlete’s childhood illnesses
- Any previous hospitalizations or surgeries
- Allergies, asthma, diabetes or epilepsy
- Past injuries from sprains to broken bones
- Any concussion history
- Any medications that are being taken
Medical history questions are usually filled out in a form and brought to the doctor’s office the day of the visit.
Answering the questions as honestly as possible will help the doctor understand an athlete’s health history.
The typical sports physical usually starts with the doctor doing the following:
- Recording height and weight
- Taking blood pressure and pulse rate
- Testing vision
- Checking the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose, and throat
- Looking at the spine, posture issues, joints, flexibility, and overall strength
Exams will mostly be the same for men and women, though different questions will be asked of each gender.
Doctors will also ask if the athlete is using any drugs, alcohol, or dietary supplements, or if they are taking any performance enhancers like steroids or weight-loss supplements.
If any problems are found, a follow-up exam or more tests will be ordered.
Why Sports Physicals Are Important
Safety is a key factor in any sport, but especially for young athletes.
Sports physicals help ensure athletes are in good shape and can help to prevent sports injuries.
Already, about 25,000 Americans sustain ankle sprains every day. Injuries are all too common and it’s important that athletes know how to prevent them.
Furthermore, physicals are key to identifying conditions that may inhibit an athlete’s ability to play or conditions that need further medical attention.
All young athletes should have a proper sports physical before they start playing.
They help identify potential risks of injury by checking physical health (including cardiac, neurological, and pulmonary health) before participation.
One of the most important aspects of sports physicals is that they focus on any health history that may directly affect your athlete’s ability to play their sport.
Sports physicals do more than just determine whether or not your athlete can participate in their sport, they also give your physician a chance to counsel your athlete on how they can stay healthy and safe while playing their sport.
For example, your physician may prescribe certain stretches to help prevent common injuries, prescribe an inhaler if your athlete has asthma, offer tips to help your athlete recover after strenuous activity, and educate your athlete about lifestyle choices
If you or your child or loved one is in need of a sports physical, visit Familyfirst Family Medical Practice.