doctor giving adolescent physical exam

Friday, August 23, 2019

Although the temperature outside may not feel like it is almost fall, school is back in session and the fall sports season has officially started.

To ensure that the student athletes in your life are as safe as possible, doctors at Norman Regional Health System recommend every athlete get a pre-participation sports physical exam each year.

What typically happens during a sports physical?

 A sports physical includes a review of your child’s medical history and a physical exam.

 During the medical history review, doctors will ask about:

  • Current or past illnesses/medical conditions
  • Previous surgeries or hospitalizations
  • Family history of serious illnesses
  • Allergies
  • Current medications
  • Past injuries, such as concussions/head injuries, sprains or broken bones
  • Whether your child has ever had chest pains, trouble breathing, felt dizzy or passed out while exercising 

 During the physical exam, your child’s health care team will:

  • Record their weight, height, blood pressure and heart rate
  • Test their vision
  • Check their flexibility, posture, strength and range of motion
  • Listen to their heart and lungs
  • Check their ears, nose, throat and abdomen

Based on the findings of your child’s medical history and physical exam, doctors may suggest additional tests like an electrocardiogram (ECG) or an echocardiogram. ECGs check the muscular and electrical functions of the heart and echocardiograms use an ultrasound to produce images of the heart.

 Why is a sports physical important?

 Undergoing an annual sports physical before training starts can help prevent injuries and lead to quicker treatment if a provider detects a medical condition or injury. It is especially important to screen for any lung-related problems, like asthma, and any heart abnormalities, like arrhythmias, valve problems or enlarged heart. Heart abnormalities can put athletes at risk for sudden death.

 A provider can also offer training tips to help your child avoid injuries, like strengthening or stretching activities.

If my children get sports physicals, do they need a well-child exam each year, too?

Yes. A well-child exam also features a physical exam and a discussion of your child’s medical history. This exam is more in-depth than a sports physical, which focuses more heavily on issues related to the participation in athletic activities.

Through the well-child exam, doctors will also:

  • Weigh and measure your child to determine their body mass index and how they stack up on the growth charts compared to other boys or girls their age
  • Discuss developmental milestones or possible developmental delays
  • Ensure your child is up to date on their immunizations
  • Talk about any safety concerns

Although these are great tips on staying healthy by scheduling sports physicals and annual well-child exams, we know that your family will get colds and other illnesses. If you need medical advice, Norman Regional has you covered. Learn more about Norman Regional Virtual Care or log on to visit with a provider 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the comfort of your home or office. It’s quick, convenient and only costs $45 for each visit.