Sports Physicals Should Be Performed Annually
If your son or daughter plays any team sport, he or she will probably be required by the high school to have an annual health exam and get medically cleared to participate. A high school sports physical or athletic physical — sometimes called a pre-participation exam (PPE) — assesses whether teenage athlete's health is at a level that would enable them to practice and compete in sports safely. (Most states require some kind of annual sports physical.)
A high school pre-participation exam is performed to asses student athlete health and is used to rule out the risk of serious injury or harm that might have been avoided through careful screening.
They are required on an annual basis as many schools and coaches need to know that athletes are healthy and able participate in a safe manner. An exam before the start of the sports season can rule out injury or underlying health conditions that may have developed since the last annual exam.
What we look for in an exam:
- Is the student in good health?
- Are any existing injuries healing? Will he or she be able to play when the season begins?
- What is the general fitness level and conditioning of the student?
- Is additional preparation and training advised?
- Is the student's size and growth appropriate for his or her age?
- Is there a known health condition or disorder and will he or she be able to safely participate (possibly with activity modifications)?
- Are there any previously undetected conditions or congenital anomalies that may the teen at risk for injury (for example, a heart condition or a musculoskeletal abnormality)?
Heart health, especially among young males, is a particular focus of sports physicals. Although sudden death from a cardiac event is rare, male athletes are in a much higher risk category than females and should be carefully screened.
The leading cause of sudden death in young athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM. It’s a genetic disorder where the heart muscle thickens and that thickened muscle can obstruct the blood flow. While most chest pain in children is not heart related, chest pain while exercising is a real red flag. Students who have chest discomfort with palpitations for more than 5 minutes, or chest pain with fainting or feeling faint should see a doctor immediately. Other causes of chest pain can be muscular or related to indigestion, stress or caffeine.
Our pediatricians will also give special attention to conditions like asthma, seizure disorders like epilepsy, sickle cell anemia, and post-concussive syndromes. (If you have had a concussion in the past, be sure to mention this at your exam.)
After passing the exam, the student will be given medical clearance to participate. Getting cleared means that that he or she can safely train and compete.
Injured athletes may require rehabilitation before they can be cleared. We can create a rehabilitation plan to insure a safe return to the sport. If there is a need for a particular treatment or even surgery, a referral to a specialist like a cardiologist or orthopedist may be in order.
These important screenings should be performed six to eight weeks prior to the sports season. For you to get medical clearance to play, the form must be signed by a doctor and given to your school or coach.
At Rainbow Pediatrics, the “Student Athlete Physicals” are a part of our comprehensive annual preventative care visits. These visits include the "Sports Physical" as well as a more complete exam, that included a review of past medical history and current problem list,a family history, nutrition, school performance, depression screens, blood work (such as hemoglobin and cholesterol), hearing/vision screens, urinalysis and immunizations. Our board certified pediatricians, can perform the student athlete examinations and answer any questions you may have.
To obtain a copy of the Student Athlete form, just click on the button below.