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What to Expect From Your Child's Upcoming Sports Physical

Jul 21, 2022
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Does your child need a sports physical? You may wonder what happens during this exam and how it differs from their usual annual physical exam. We answer your questions in this informative post.

If your child needs a sports physical, they’re not alone. School may not have started yet, but if your middle-school through college-age child plays competitive sports, it’s already time to think about their next (or first!) sports physical. 

Schools, competitive teams, and different organizations often require each player to have this simple medical evaluation to make sure they’re healthy enough to play and that coaches are aware of any special conditions that need to be managed, like asthma. 

At The Center for Advanced Pediatrics with offices in Darien and Norwalk, Connecticut, our experienced providers specialize in giving sports physicals to children of all ages. If this is your child’s first time needing this special exam, here’s a look at what’s involved and how you can get started. 

Understanding sports physicals 

Sports physicals, also sometimes called pre-participation physical evaluations (PPEs), are exams required by schools, the state, organizations, and teams before your child is allowed to participate in a sport. 

A sports physical doesn’t replace your child’s usual annual physical. However, at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, we’re happy to combine both types of physicals into one appointment. 

Your provider reviews your child’s medical history and conducts a physical exam. These simple two-part exams review or uncover any medical conditions or health issues that could affect your child’s ability to participate in their sport. 

Having a medical condition doesn’t mean your child can’t participate, however. Depending on your child’s condition, your provider at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics may adjust or prescribe medication, recommend the use of safety equipment (e.g., prescription safety glasses for children with corrective lenses), or provide suggestions for how a coach can help manage your child’s condition. 

If possible, try to schedule your child’s sports physical 6-8 weeks before the season or sporting activity begins. This allows enough time for your child to be evaluated and for your provider to treat or address any conditions or problems uncovered during the exam.

What you can expect before and during a sports physical

As a parent or guardian, you’re familiar with what happens during your child’s annual physical or well-check appointment. However, sports physicals are a bit different, as your provider at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics evaluates your child’s fitness and health with their particular sport or physical activity in mind. 

The exams consist of two parts: the medical history review and the physical exam. Generally, you and your child complete a series of questions on the provided sports physical form. These questions review key aspects of your child’s medical history, including:

  • Family history of medical conditions and serious illnesses
  • Child’s history of medical issues or problems
  • Your child’s immunization history
  • Any previous surgeries or hospitalization
  • Any allergies and past injuries
  • History of chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or passing out
  • Any medications and supplements your child takes

Your child will be asked about either their menstrual cycle or any testicle pain. Your child’s provider also asks your child lifestyle questions, including about alcohol and drug use. 

During the physical exam, your child’s provider takes their vital signs, measures their height and weight, and evaluates their hearing and eyesight. In addition, the provider examines your child’s:

  • Range of motion, balance, and alignment
  • Muscles and bones, looking for scoliosis
  • Abdomen, heart, and lungs
  • Ear, nose, and throat

At the end of your child’s sports physical, your Center for Advanced Pediatrics provider completes the required forms, which may include a copy of your child’s immunization record. Any special requirements or health concerns are noted on the form. 

Getting started with a sports physical

While it’s possible to schedule a sports physical at an urgent care clinic or walk-in pharmacy, it’s best to see a pediatrician for a sports physical. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends seeing your child’s pediatrician for this important exam.

Pediatricians, like the providers at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, are specially trained to diagnose and address conditions in children and adolescents whose bodies differ from adults.  We can also make sure your child is up-to-date with any immunizations or other health requirements.

Getting started with a sports physical is as easy as scheduling an appointment at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics office in Darien or Norwalk, Connecticut. Call the office nearest you to get started today or request an appointment online now.