It never fails that just a day or two before an athletic tryout or conditioning is scheduled to begin, many children are just then telling their parents that they need a Sports Physical completed before they can go to the activity. Yikes! Sports Physicals, also known as a Preparticipation Physical Evaluation (PPE), may feel like just another box for parents to check, but they are much more than that.
An annual Sports Physical is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and many other medical and sports medicine groups so that athletes have the best opportunity to fully and safely participate in their sports and activities. Not only is it recommended by the various medical groups, but it is often required by your state’s law that the school needs to have one on file each academic year before the student athlete can participate.
What can my child expect at the Sports Physical?
The Sports Physical is very similar to an annual Well Child Check visit with some additional questions and possibly a more in-depth physical exam, depending on the child’s personal and family medical history. It is important that the athlete and/or their parent/guardian has a good understanding of the athlete’s complete personal and family medical history.
Why Does Your Child Need a Sports Physical in Omaha?
Sudden cardiac arrest and death are rare in athletes, especially children, but they are always in the back of any parent and medical provider’s mind. During the Sports Physical, the athlete will answer questions about any symptoms they may have that could suggest a problem with the heart. The athlete will have their blood pressure checked and report any history of high blood pressure, heart murmur, high cholesterol, Kawasaki disease, heart infection, or any previous cardiac evaluations. It is also important to know if the athlete has any past history of passing out, nearly passing out, chest pains, dizziness or heart palpitations during exercise. The medical provider will want to know if there was any sudden family death before the age of 50 years including unexplained drowning or car accident, or sudden infant death syndrome.
Injury and Health Issue Prevention
Musculoskeletal injuries are practically guaranteed to happen to some degree with every athlete. The medical provider will ask the athlete about previous injuries, including any strains, sprains or breaks. The provider will want to know specific details about the recovery period after the injury. Any musculoskeletal abnormalities, such as swelling or stiffness in a joint, should be discussed with the provider.
Head injuries and concussions are unfortunately a part of contact sports. Concussion-like symptoms, such as fatigue, sleep difficulties, poor concentration, and headache, are often reported among children and adolescents in the absence of previous head injury. The provider will get a baseline assessment of the athlete’s symptoms in order to decrease over-diagnosis of postconcussion syndrome in those children with such symptoms.
Mental Health & Preparedness
A lot of young athletes put a lot of pressure on themselves, sometimes leading to stress, depression, anxiety, perfectionism, and attention deficits. The medical provider will ask the athlete questions about these important and sensitive issues in a private and confidential setting in order to help the athlete discover and recommend treatments to improve their mental health.
After thoroughly reviewing the athlete’s personal and family medical history, the provider will complete a head-to-toe physical examination focusing on any areas of concern, such as any joints with a previous injury. Male athletes may wonder if they will need to be checked for an inguinal hernia. Unless there is a history of inguinal hernias or other testicular conditions needing examination, most asymptomatic male athletes do not need to be checked for inguinal hernias as physical examination typically does not identify inguinal hernias in males without abnormal symptoms.
Once the physical exam is complete, the medical provider will decide if the athlete is cleared for participation or if they need additional evaluation before being cleared. The vast majority of athletes are cleared without restriction. Even the athletes with red flag conditions, such as a serious cardiac concern, are cleared without restriction but the athlete may need to see a specialist for official clearance.
Book a Physical Evaluation Now
The summer is the perfect time to get your child’s Sports Physical completed. Oftentimes these physicals can be billed as the child’s annual physical and therefore be covered 100% as preventative care with participating insurance plans. Nebraska Home Pediatrics has all recommended childhood vaccinations and can get your child updated when needed.