What should be included in a thorough sports physical?

My child needs a physical – what should be included in a thorough sports physical?

The sports physical answers an important question: Does your child have any medical condition that will make him or her more likely to suffer an illness or injury on the playing field? Schedule this exam with your child’s doctor about six weeks before beginning a sport.

The most important part of a sports physical is your child’s medical history. The doctor will ask about any medical problems, such as asthma or diabetes, for which your child needs regular treatment. Tell the doctor about any medication that may affect your child’s play or may be needed for play, such as an inhaler. The doctor will also ask questions about each part of the body to make sure the brain, lungs, heart, bones, joints, and muscles are healthy.

At the beginning of the physical exam, your child’s height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure, and eyesight will be measured and recorded. Then, the doctor carefully examines each body part, checking nose and throat, heart rhythm, breathing, abdominal organs, and nervous system. Bones and muscles will also be tested for strength, balance, and flexibility.

Finally, the doctor puts all of this information together to make a recommendation. The doctor may ask for more tests, recommend a specialist, identify a problem and prescribe treatment, suggest protective equipment or therapy, or clear the athlete to participate without restriction. It is important to follow these recommendations so your child may reap the benefits of regular physical exercise while minimizing the risks of injury or illness associated with play.

Find a primary care doctor for your child’s sports physical, here.