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The Sports Physical

Children returned to school and fall sports have begun. If your child participates in fall sports, a pre-participation or sports physical is usually required. Parents often want to know why the sports physical is needed. Sports physicals help determine if the athlete is healthy enough to participate in sports and to help reduce sports related injuries.

The sports physical is comprised of both a medical history and an exam. The parent(s) and student-athlete provide the medical history to the physician conducting the exam. The physician reviews the athlete's medical history and screens for potential health risks. The history includes past hospitalization, surgeries, allergies, family history, injury history, medications and symptoms such as dizziness or chest pain. If any health concerns are identified, the physician asks follow up questions.

After the history review, the physician conducts a physical exam. The physical exam includes vital signs including height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, vision screening and temperature. The physician checks the ears, nose, throat, heart, lungs, eyes, and abdomen. As part of the sport physical the physician examines the student-athletes joints, strength, posture, balance, reflexes and flexibility. The student-athlete is also asked about diet. Young men undergo a hernia exam. Young women are asked about menstrual cycles and the onset of puberty. 

After the physical exam is complete, the physician completes and the sports physical form. The physician will indicate whether the student-athlete is cleared to fully participate in sports. If a health concern is identified, the physician may recommend treatment for a medical problem, a follow up exam or further testing. The sports physical ensures the student is healthy enough to play.

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