School Physicals—What to Expect

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It’s that time of year again! As we prepare for our children to participate in another year of fun competition, the first stop is to the doctor’s office to have a sports physical completed. Whether your child participates on an athletic team or a drill team, a sports physical is necessary. A sports physical is a physical exam that is more tailored to discover any potential problems that may develop while participating in extracurricular activities. This can be a great time to screen for health issues that may prevent them from having a successful season or even uncover a preventable injury.

Preparing for a School Physical

First, it is important to prepare for the physical by filling out the past medical history of the child’s previous orthopedic injuries such as concussions or sprains, as well as previous medical problems such as asthma, diabetes, or epilepsy. Bring a copy of their immunization record, if you have one. You will also need to report your family’s medical history. Bring along with you any medications that your child is taking, including supplements. This will help the examiner to discuss and evaluate any potential problems that could arise during the season.

During the physical the parent or guardian should be available to answer any questions that the child is not prepared to answer and bring questions that you might have as well.

Exams During the Physical

There may be a team of medical personnel involved in completing your child’s physical or it can be completed by a sole provider. A medical doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner will do the physical exam and sign off on all the findings that the team has compiled. Prepare your child for an extensive exam that encompasses taking their vital signs including weight, height, blood pressure, pulse,

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strength and flexibility testing. An evaluation for hernias may also be performed. There will be a vision screen performed as well so be sure your child wears their glasses or contact lens to the physical exam. If your child has significant dental issues, that may also be discussed and evaluated. Some sports physicals will include an assessment of the student’s heart function by performing an EKG.

Following Up from Your Physical

A sports physical is good for a year and should be redone before the following season begins. Although not all sports physicals are performed by your child’s primary care provider, it is important to follow up on any abnormalities found with your primary care provider. If you do not pass the physical the follow-up is crucial so that a re-evaluation can be performed and then your child may be eligible to participate.

Once you have completed and passed your physical you are ready to play! Have a great season and don’t forget to check back in with your doctor if your health changes during the season. We are here to help you have a healthy, successful season!

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