Information on School and Summer Sports Physicals
A majority of youth sports leagues require that participants visit a local pediatrician for a summer sports physical about a month prior to beginning training.
What is Included in a Sports Physical?
A sports physical often includes two separate parts: a health history questionnaire and a physical exam. Both sections of the sports physical are important to ensure that your child is physically able to partake in intense exercise.
The Health History Portion of a Sports Physical
The health history portion of a sports physical includes the following information:
- Medical history of injury
- Medical history of illness
- Emergency contact information
- Family history of illness
- Menstrual cycle information (for girls)
- Medications list
What Tests are Performed?
The student will undergo a review of their medical history as well as a physical examination. Their doctor will evaluate the following factors to determine whether the student is cleared to play their specific sport:
- Height & Weight: In most cases, these measurements are not a cause for concern. In rare instances, the doctor may determine that the student athlete’s height or weight may be risk-factor.
- Blood Pressure: High or low blood pressure will usually not disqualify someone from participation, however follow up care may be recommended.
- Vision: The student athlete is not required to have perfect vision in order to participate in any particular sport, but it may be cause for concern in some instances. For example, if a person has extremely poor visual acuity and they want to play baseball, they may not be cleared for that sport.
- Heart: Some rare heart abnormalities could cause sudden death during physical activity. Tests will be performed in order to determine if these abnormalities are present.
- Abdomen: An examination of the abdomen will be performed to assess the risk of tearing during contact sports.
- Muscles & Skeleton: The student’s overall body structure and capability of movement will be observed. Their doctor will also check their back to determine if scoliosis is present.
The Physical Exam
The physical exam looks for anything unusual such as:
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Irregular joint pains
- High blood pressure
- Reflex problems
- Muscle imbalances
If Health Issues are Found, Can My Child Still Participate?
If medical issues are present, potential solutions and treatments will be discussed. If the condition is permanent, a judgment will be made to place the student athlete into one of the following participation categorizations:
- Unrestricted Participation: The student may play in the specified sport without any constraints.
- Clearance With Coach Notification: The student athlete is cleared to play the sport, but special accommodations may be warranted in certain circumstances.
- Deferred Clearance: Clearance cannot be given at this time, but a treatment plan will be put in place for future evaluation.
- Disqualification: Participation in the sport is prohibited.
If there is cause for concern at some point during the physical exam, a physician may suggest blood tests, X-rays or muscle strength training.