If your child is one of the 60 million youths in the United States planning on playing a sport for their school or in a league, the school or league will likely require the student-athlete to first complete a sports physical.
A sports physical, which is also known as a preparticipation physical examination, is designed to assess your child’s health and check for any injuries or conditions that could keep them from safely competing in their sport.
As a parent, you should attend the physical with your child and find out certain things during the appointment. Toward that end, Pamela Phillips, PH.D., FNP-C, of Phillips Family Medical in DeSoto, Texas, goes over six important questions you should ask.
You may be wondering if a sports physical can take the place of your child’s annual well-child visit. Your provider will be able to give you a definitive answer. However, in general, while there’s some overlap between the two exams, a sports physical usually focuses specifically on a child’s readiness for physical activity. A well-child exam, on the other hand, usually includes other aspects, so you’ll likely need both appointments.
You should always ask what the provider is planning to check, so you can be on the same page in terms of expectations. Most sports physicals will include a review of your child’s medical history, a physical exam to check their vital signs and screen for any abnormalities, and an orthopedic exam to check general body structure and range of motion.
One reason physicals are required is to catch any physical issues you and your child may not be aware of. If you have regular exams, you’ll be more likely to catch problems while they’re smaller and easier to deal with. If you don’t follow up on any potential issues, they could become more serious, so be sure to ask your provider.
This question can be specific to your child’s sport. For example, if your child has asthma and is planning to play soccer, they may need a different inhaler or dosage of their medication as their activity level increases.
You should tell your provider what sport your child is planning to play and then ask them this question. They may give you some specific stretches to help prepare your child’s body, and they may also provide some helpful nutrition tips, too, for example.
This is a good question, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the sport your child will be playing. Your provider has most likely seen hundreds of patients who play that particular sport and can give you advice on specific strategies and tactics you can use to make sure your child is as safe as possible while they’re playing.
Once the physical is over, your child’s provider should give you a completed form you can return to the school or league. If you need a provider for your child, our team at Phillips Family Medical will be happy to help. Just call 972-709-3415 or use the online booking tool to request an appointment.