What Happens at a Fall Sports Physical?
Soccer! Lacrosse! Golf! Tennis! Football! Volleyball!
It’s not just the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo that has people excited about sports – it’s also the start of the 2021 school fall sports season. At the writing of this blog, the athletics school year in South Carolina was expected to begin as scheduled. While this situation is definitely a moving target, parents who have children interested in participating in fall sports should make sure they have the proper paperwork in place well in advance.
One of the main action items is to schedule a sports physical for your child. A green light from your pediatrician is often required before your child can participate in organized sports. This is not something that is taken lightly – it’s important that your teenager or younger child has been assessed so any health conditions or injuries can be identified before they start their sports season. The health and safety of your child is the most important thing to consider before allowing them to participate in sports.
Expect Two-Way Communication
Communication is extremely vital during the sports physical. If your pediatrician does not already know your child, they will ask questions about your family’s history of serious illnesses, diseases and other medical conditions. They will want to know what types of medications your child is currently taking and ensure that their immunizations are up-to-date. If any immunizations are missing, the doctor may recommend those are administered during the visit. The more information you can provide about your child’s health history, the better. Be honest about things like past injuries, hospitalizations, etc., so the pediatrician can be as informed as possible.
Lifestyle is also an important aspect of the sports physical. If your child is a teenager, the pediatrician may ask that you step outside of the room so your teen can provide more honest answers to questions about sexual activity, smoking, vaping, alcohol/drug usage, eating disorders, menstrual patterns, etc.
Painless Tests to Expect
Sometimes parents think that the sports physical is unnecessary because the tests performed are seemingly generic. This is actually far from the truth. The pediatrician is looking for any irregularities or red flags that might be intensified during activities – things like asthma, diabetes, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fractures, concussions, etc. Blood tests, X-rays or other tests may be ordered to help diagnose conditions.
The pediatrician will check your child’s:
- Height and weight
- Blood pressure
- Pulse/heart rate
- Reflexes and joints
- Strength and flexibility
- Eyes, ears, nose and mouth/throat
- Lymph nodes
The ultimate goal is to have your child deemed medically eligible for participation (with or without restriction) in the sport(s) they desire. If a condition or disease is identified, your child may still be able to participate with the right type of monitoring, medication, rehabilitation, etc.
Get Ready: It’s a Yearly Event
The sports physical is not a one-and-done thing. Your child’s health can change over time, so you’ll probably have to schedule a sports physical annually (even if you are unaware of any changes in your child’s health). Although it can be an inconvenience, the bottom line is that schools want to protect the health and safety of your child. If you know your child will want to play sports, it is ideal to get their sports physical scheduled at least 6-8 weeks before the start of their sport. Earlier is better just in case you need to get any additional tests, medications or treatments done so they are ready for the first game.
Westgate Family Physicians are a team of family doctors that provide sports physicals in Spartanburg, SC. We will carefully assess your child and determine if it will be safe for them to play their sport of choice. Our main goal is to keep your child protected and active! If you would like to schedule a sports physical in Spartanburg, contact us at (864) 574-0070 or click here to make an appointment.