About School Sports Physicals

In the field of sports medicine, a sports physical examination, or is called a preparticipation physical exam (PPE). The exam helps to determine whether or not it is safe to participate in a specific sport. Actually a majority of states require teens and children to undergo a sports physical before they are able to participate in a new sport or get started in a new competitive season. However, even when you are not required to have a sports physical, doctors still strongly recommend that you have one done.

A sports physical has two main parts to it which are the physical exam and medical history.

Medical History

During this part of the examination you will be asked questions about issues such as:

– serious illnesses that members of your family have had
– illnesses that you might have now or had in the past, such as epilepsy, diabetes, or asthma.
– previous surgeries or hospitalizations
– allergies (for example, to insect bites)
– past injuries (including bone fractures, sprains, and concussions)
– whether you have ever had difficulties breathing while exercising, had chest pain, felt dizzy, or ever passed out
– any medications you are currently taking (including prescription medications, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medications)

Usually the medical history questions are on a form that can be brought home, so your parents can help fill the answers in. Ask both parents, if possible, about their family medical history.

Do your best to answer the questions to the best of your ability. Try not to just provide answers that you think the doctor wants or guess.

One good way of considering what potential conditions you might have is to look at patterns of illness within your family. A majority of sports medicine doctors consider the medical history to be the most important component of the sports physical examination, so be sure to take the time to carefully answer the questions. It is not likely that the answers you provide will end up preventing you from being able to play your sport.

Physical Exam

Usually during the physical part of your examination, the doctor will:

– record your weight and height
– take pulse and blood pressure (rhythm and heart rate)
– give you a vision test
– check your throat, nose, ears, abdomen, lungs, and heart
– evaluate your flexibility, strength, joints, and posture

Although a majority of the exam is the same for both females and males, if an individual has started or gone through puberty already, the doctor might ask different questions of boys and girls. For example, when a girl is involved heavily in numerous active sports, then the doctor might ask her about her diet and period to ensure she doesn’t have something such as female athlete triad (weak bones, absent or irregular periods, and poor nutrition )

Also, a doctor will ask questions about use of alcohol, drugs, weight loss supplements, or dietary supplements, which include steroids and other types of “performance enhancers” since a person’s health can be affected.

Once your exam has been completed, your doctor either will fill a form out and sign it if everything has checked out fine or, in certain situation, might recommend a specific treatment for a medical issue, additional tests, or a follow-up exam.

Why Is It Important to Have a Sports Physical?

A sports physical will help you learn about health issues that might interfere with you participating in a sport and how to deal with them. For example, if you play forward in soccer and suffer from frequent asthma attacks, your doctor may be able to adjust your dosage or prescribe a different kind of inhaler to allow you to breathe more easily while you are running.

Your doctor might be able to provide you with some great training tips and ideas on how to avoid injuries. For instance, the doctor might recommend certain strengthening or stretching exercises, that can help to prevent you from getting injured. A doctor may also be able to identify risk that factors associated with certain sports. This type of advice can make you a stronger and better athlete.

Where And When Should I Have a Sports Physical Done?

Some individuals will have their sports physical done by their regular doctor; others will have it done at immediate care.

If a sports physical is required by your state, most likely you will need to start having them once you are in the seventh grade. But even if your state or school doesn’t require a sports physical, it is still a good idea to have one if you are participating in school sports. If you are going to compete in a sport on a regular basis before ninth grade, then you should have an exam earlier.

Usually it is sufficient to have a sports physical done once per year. If you have a major injury that you are healing from, such as a broken ankle or wrist, then you should have it check once it healed before you start to practice or play again.

Your physical should be conducted about 6 weeks prior to your sports season beginning so that you have enough time if anything needs to be followed up on. Neither your doctor or you will be too happy if you have your sports physical on the day before your base practice begins and you turn out to have something that has to be taken care of prior to you suiting up.

What If I Have a Problem?

So what happens if your doctor doesn’t give you the OK and you need to go see a specialist? Will that mean that you won’t be able to letter in hockey or softball ever? Don’t worry about it if your doctor prescribes a follow up exam or other tests – it might be something as basic has having your blood pressure rechecked in a few weeks after having your physical exam.

The referral from your doctor to a specialist might help improve your athletic performance. For instance, if you would like to try out for the track team at your school but each time you run, you feel a slight pain within our knee, a sports medicine specialist or orthopedist can help you determine what is happening. Maybe your pain comes from poor running technique or previous over training. Perhaps you injured your knee some time ago and it never completely healed. Or maybe the problem is as simple as your running shoes are not providing you with enough support. There is a good chance, that your doctor can help you with your running with risking further injury to your knee by providing you treatment or suggestions before the sports season starts.

If is not very likely that you will end up being disqualified from participating in sports. A sport physical’s ultimate goal is to ensure you are safe while you are playing sports, and not to prevent you from playing. A specialist most of the time won’t find a reason to prevent you from participating in your sport.

Will I Still Need To Have A Regular Physical?

Yes. It might seem like overkill. However, a standard physical and sports physical are two different things.

The focus of a sports physical is on your well-being in terms of how it relates to you playing a sport. This is more limited compared to a regular physical. However, it is also much more specific when it comes to athletic issues. When you have a regular physical, your doctor addresses your overall well-being, and that can include things that don’t relate to sports. You might ask if your doctor can provide you with both kinds of exams in the same visit; you just need to realize that it will take more time if two exams are being given.

Even if no problems are revealed during your sports physical examination, it is always a good idea to monitor yourself while playing sports. If you do happen to notice any changes to your physical conditions – including minor ones like shortness of breath or muscle pain 0 make sure that you tell a coach or parent about it. You should also tell your coach or physical education teacher if there have been any changes to your health needs of if you have started to take a new medication.

Just like professional athletes need to have medical care in order to continue playing their very best, teenage athletes do as well.

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