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Insights into Pediatric Sports Physicals: What to Expect

Jul 25, 2023

Pediatric Care

Insights into Pediatric Sports Physicals: What to Expect

A pediatric sports physical exam, also known as a pre-participation physical examination (PPE), is a medical examination for children and adolescents engaged in sports activities.

This test ensures that young athletes are fit and healthy enough to participate in various sports. It identifies any underlying medical conditions that may pose a risk during physical exertion, assess overall fitness levels, and provide guidance to enhance performance.

It also includes recommendations about injury prevention, sports-specific training, and any necessary lifestyle modifications for children with pre-existing medical conditions.

How Soon Should My Child Get a Sports Physical Before Participating in Sports?

Your child should get a sports physical before participating in sports as early as possible, ideally a few weeks to a month before the start of the sports season or activities. This allows enough time to address any potential health concerns that may be identified during the examination.

Getting the sports physical early ensures that your child is in good health and fit to participate safely in the chosen sport, and it also allows sufficient time for any necessary follow-up evaluations or treatments if required.

What Is Examined in a Pediatric Sports Physical?

A Pediatric physical evaluation assesses various vital aspects that are important for your children to excel in their chosen sports while reducing the risk of potential injuries, including:

  • Heart Health – It involves examining your child’s past heart evaluations or history of high blood pressure and your family history of heart problems.
  • Mental Health – It includes examining your child’s perfectionism, anxiety, depression, stress, and attention deficits.
  • Concussions and Head Injuries - An athlete with a known or possible concussion should not return to sports without being cleared by a healthcare professional. A child with one or more prior concussions is likely to get a few more concussions in the future. A pediatric sports physical can help recommend the best treatment if your child has problems from a past concussion, including trouble concentrating, headaches, trouble sleeping, and irritability.
  • Unique Concerns of Female Athletes – It includes examining menstrual health, bone health, and nutrition/calorie intake of female athletes. Young female athletes are susceptible to some bone and joint injuries, including ACL tears of the knee. So, some screening tests can be recommended for on-time detection and treatment. Some prevention programs are also recommended to help minimize injuries.
  • Unique Concerns of Disabled Athletes – Children’s and teens’ physical disabilities, such as losing the ability to use arms or legs, lack of full vision, or muscle control problems, will be discussed and evaluated to reduce problems and injuries that can occur while playing.

How Often a Child Should Get a Pediatric Sports Physical Exam?

Children should get a pediatric sports physical exam before participating in organized sports or recreational activities, and then annually to track their growth, development, and overall health.

However, some sports programs may have specific guidelines, and certain medical conditions may require more frequent exams to ensure the child's safety and well-being during sports participation.

Related Article: What Are Sports Physicals and Why Do You Need Them?

How to Prepare for the Pediatric Sports Physical?

Before taking your child for a sports physical, make sure to update your child's medical records, including:

  • List of allergies
  • Prescription medications that your child currently takes
  • Current immunizations
  • New health issues (if any)

A pediatric sports physical will include reviewing your child’s medical history and a comprehensive physical examination.

Final Thoughts

A pediatric sports physical aims to promote health, well-being, and safe participation in sports for your young athletes. By scheduling these annual check-ups, parents can support their child's optimal athletic performance and help prevent any potential injury or health-related setbacks.

Get Walk-in Pediatric Sports Physicals at Metro Urgent Care

At Metro Urgent Care, we offer comprehensive and convenient pediatric sports physicals for children of all ages. With compassionate physicians and kid-friendly exam rooms and medical equipment, we keep your children comfortable and worry-free throughout the exam.

Schedule an appointment today to keep your child in an optimal physical condition, so they can excel on the field with confidence.

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