Here’s why your child should see the pediatrician for a sports physical
TrishaKorioth, Staff Writer
Want to avoid the back-to-school rush for your child’s sports physical? When scheduling
her next routine health supervision visit, ask to have a preparticipation evaluation,
Even kids who don’t play organized sports should have a sports physical, because all
children are potential athletes, according to new guidance from six major medical
organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
“If they look like they might be remotely interested (in playing a sport), I say ‘How
about we answer these questions and then if you decide to go, you’ve got your exam
done,’” said William Roberts, M.D., M.S., FACSM, FAAFP, an author of the guidance.
“What we’re trying to do is screen children to be prepared for activity.”
It’s best to have the routine health supervision visit during your child’s birthday
month. If not, it should occur at least six to eight weeks before the sports season
begins. This allows time to address any potential problems, said David Bernhardt,
M.D., FAAP, an author of the guidance from the AAP.
The AAP recommends that all children receive routine health supervision visits and
sports physicals from their pediatrician. This helps keep medical records and health
history up to date and ensures your child is caught up on immunizations. It also gives
your child a chance to discuss concerns in a confidential setting.
Steer clear of mass screenings done at school or a pharmacy clinic where the medical
record and immunizations may not be available for the best care. Also, if something
abnormal is found, your child likely will have to visit his primary physician. This
may delay sports participation.
To save time, complete the health history form before the appointment. A separate
form is available for children with disabilities. See http://bit.ly/AAPSportsPhysical.
“Answer the questions honestly and thoroughly,” Dr. Roberts said. “That’s our real
window into the kids that are at risk.”
Your doctor will complete the physical examination form. If your child can participate
in activities without restrictions, your doctor will complete the medical eligibility
Some kids are not medically eligible after the initial exam, but most are cleared
without restriction, Dr. Bernhardt said. If there is a family history of heart problems
or other issues, getting checked out by a specialist is important.