Whether your child has been playing sports for years or are just starting, sports physicals are essential to a new sports season. Sports physicals are done to ensure your child can participate in sports safely.
In Nebraska, sports physicals are required and must be completed after May 1 and submitted to the school before the first day of practice.
While sports physicals don’t replace routine check-ups, they’re a great way to connect with your child’s pediatrician and start the season off right. Here’s an overview of why sports physicals are essential and what you can expect at your child’s appointment.
Why Does My Child Need A Sports Physical?
Like well-visits and other check-ups with your child’s healthcare provider, sports physicals are a form of preventative care. They are used to gauge your child’s health and wellness and to prevent future problems from occurring or getting worse.
Sports physicals are done to:
- Check your child’s overall health
- Evaluate your child’s physical fitness
- Measure your child’s physical maturity
- Identify and learn about current injuries
- Find conditions that can make your child prone to future injuries
Your child’s provider can also review how to stay safe while playing sports, especially with a medical condition like asthma or seizures. They can review what restrictions your child might have (if any) and discuss an action plan if problems should occur. It can also be an excellent opportunity to ask questions about your child’s participation in the activity.
What To Expect At A Sports Physical
The goal of a sports physical is to do a complete overview of your child’s ability to play sports safely. This means they’ll ask a wide range of questions and review your child’s overall health. While every provider may approach sports physicals slightly differently, you can expect to review these components of your child’s health:
Medical and Family History
Your child’s provider will start by asking about their overall health, including if they have any current or past medical conditions or are taking any medications.
They may inquire about your child’s family history, since that plays a crucial role in your child’s health. This is because a family history of certain health conditions, such as heart problems, can be a reason to conduct a more thorough evaluation on children with no symptoms.
The physical examination portion of a sports physical is similar to an annual check-up. The exam focusses on the overall health of your child with the inclusion of sports-related questions.
Your child’s provider may:
- Listen to their heart and lungs
- Check their weight and height
- Review their diet
- Measure their pulse and blood pressure
- Check their belly, ears, nose, and throat
- Check their joints, flexibility, and reflexes
- Test their vision
- For girls, ask about menstrual periods
- Discuss the usage of drugs, alcohol and supplements
Mental Health Assessment
Mental health problems are common in childhood and adolescence — especially among athletes. A sports physical is an ideal checkpoint to evaluate your child’s mental health and how they cope with stress.
Your child’s provider may ask questions about:
- How much sleep they’re getting
- Do they still find new and previous activities enjoyable
- Their ability to concentrate
- If they’re having feelings of guilt, loss of energy, or worthlessness
What Questions Should I Ask At My Child’s Sports Physical?
A sports physical is also an excellent time to ask your child’s provider any questions you or your child has about their health and participating in sports safely.
You or your child might ask your child’s provider questions about how to:
- Eat healthy for physical activity
- Manage stress, especially when balancing sports and school
- Exercise at home to improve physical fitness
- Stretch effectively
No questions should go unanswered. If you have concerns about your child’s physical, mental, or emotional health, your child’s provider can either provide an answer or direct you to a specialist who can.
Engaging in sports is one of the most effective and enjoyable ways your child can stay fit, healthy, and happy. But before stepping onto the field, turf, or court, it’s important to make sure you’ve checked all the boxes to keep your child safe, starting with their sports physical.
Ready to schedule your child’s sports physical? Make an appointment on Children’s Connect or by contacting your Children’s Physicians location.