Active Kids Need This Special Test

Despite the hours in front of tablets and video games, kids in the US still play sports. About 30-40 million kids participate in organized sports annually. Sports help kids build social skills and stay fit in a constructive way. From time to time, these tykes and teens need a sports physical. Most parents aren’t aware, but a test can make sure kids can safely participate.

center for family medicine What Is A Sports Physical And When Does My Child Need One

What is a sports physical?

A sports physical exam is sometimes called a preparticipation physical examination (PPE). The test assures the safety of children playing in organized sports. Most US states require physicals as a prerequisite for children and teens. Doctors also recommend sports physicals before a new season or taking on a new sport.

Prepping with the questionnaire

There are 2 main parts of a physical. The first involves a series of simple questions that ask about the child’s medical history. This is filled out by the parent. The questionnaire covers family illnesses, past illnesses, and previous injuries. A doctor may also need to find out about current medication and supplements. More importantly, the doctor will need to know about episodes of asthma, epilepsy, passing out, feeling dizzy, or breathing trouble during exercise.

Finally the physical

After the questions, the doctor moves on to the physical part of the exam. Here, the doctor starts with recording height and weight. The doctor then takes note of blood pressure and heart rates. A simple test measures the child’s vision. Next, the primary and some sensory organs are evaluated, including the lungs, ears, nose, and throat. Finally, checks to joints, overall strength, flexibility, and posture completes the exam.

How do exams differ?

The exam is relatively the same for males and females. The examining doctor may ask a different line of questions for post-pubescent males and females. For instance, if the patient is female, questions about periods or diets may be necessary. These questions usually are checking for the female athlete triad: lack of nutrition, an irregularity in menstrual cycles, and weak bones. These questions determine if there are any issues or if further tests are needed. Parents should always schedule a follow-up exam with the physician.

Physically important

Physicals help to determine any physical or health problems in young athletes before undertaking strenuous activities. A physician may also have great tips that can add to athletic performance or prevent injuries. More than 3 million sport-related incidents happen per year amongst children. A sports physical can significantly reduce the chances of injury.

When should I seek a sports physical for my child?

Experts typically recommend sports physicals before the start of a new season. And sports physicians advise a timeframe of 6 weeks before starting any new sport. This allows adequate time for follow-ups. A sports physical can also be done after an injury to assess an athlete’s ability to rejoin the chosen sport. Even if this is not administered by the state or sports team, children should all get a physical by the 7th grade.

A simple check makes all the difference

Sports physicals test a child’s fitness for demanding physical activity. With athletes, including professional sports players, doctors strongly recommend routine checks for the best performance. If a child expresses an interest in a sport, parents should take the child for a physical at least 6 weeks before the activity. Continue these checks at the start of every season. Physicals may sound trivial, but the exam helps to keep kids happy and healthy.