Primary Care & Aesthetic Medicine

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Sport or School Physical

What Is a Sports/School Physical?

A sports physical — also known as a pre-participation physical examination — is a check-up to assess a teen’s health and fitness as it relates to a sport. It is not the same as a regular physical. During the sports physical, the health care provider looks for any diseases or injuries that could make it unsafe to participate in sports and reviews the family’s medical history to ensure additional tests are performed if necessary.

Where Is a Sports Physical Done?

The teen’s physician can perform the sports physical. Physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners also can do a sports physical and sign the required forms.

When Is a Sports Physical Done?

Ideally you should try to have the exam done about six to eight weeks before sports season starts. That way, if the health care provider wants to treat a condition, refer you to a specialist, or do a follow-up exam, there will be enough time before the sport begins to be cleared to play.

What to Expect During a Sports Physical
Your teen’s sports physical should start with a thorough medical history. The health care provider will ask about any history of illness, hospitalizations, or injuries that might prevent your teen from playing, or that might limit the amount of activity your teen can handle. Your teen should be asked to fill out a health history form as well as a teen questionnaire that investigates daily habits and lifestyle choices (it asks about drug and alcohol use, among other topics). Girls may also be asked about their period, and whether it’s regular. Additional testing such as blood tests, X-rays, or electrocardiogram may be ordered during the sports physical.
Will My Teen Be Able to Play?

At the end of the sports physical, the health care provider will decide whether it’s safe for your teen to play the sport. The health care provider’s decision is based on several factors, including the:

    • Type of sport and how strenuous it is
    • Position played
    • Level of competition
    • Size of the athlete
    • Use and type of protective equipment
    • Ability to modify the sport to make it safer

If everything checks out during the sports physical, the health care provider will give the OK to play without any restrictions. Or the health care provider might recommend certain modifications, like using special protective equipment, carrying epinephrine auto injectors for severe insect allergies, or using an inhaler if your teen has asthma.

It’s rare for teens to be barred from playing entirely. Most health conditions won’t prevent kids from participating in sports, but sometimes they’ll need treatment and a follow-up exam in order to play.

Finally, remember that even if your teen has a sports physical every season, if it is not a complete physical exam, he should still receive a comprehensive health exam each year. If your teen takes a break from sports one year, make sure they still receive an annual check-up.

Schedule your teen’s physical at SunMed today. Same or next-day appointment available