Now is the perfect time to schedule your family’s physical exams. With summer ending and fall sports activities ramping up, it’s important to make sure everyone in your household is healthy enough to participate in their sport of choice. Playing sports is a terrific way for you and your children to stay physically fit, socialize and have fun. Students are often required to get both a sports physical and a regular physical if they attend school and play a sport.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association requires student-athletes to complete an annual physical exam and family medical history evaluation before they can participate in a sport. A sports physical is different from an annual physical because it focuses on reviewing your child’s medical history (e.g., preexisting injuries or medical conditions) as well as their current health status to confirm whether they’re healthy enough to participate in sports. The areas of focus during a sports physical typically include:
- Height and weight
- Vision and hearing
- Heart health
- Blood pressure
- Muscle and bone health
- Flexibility and strength
Why are physical exams important?
Physical exams help identify any conditions that could put your child at risk and conduct any necessary tests to ensure their safety on and off the field. They’re also a unique opportunity for doctors to share training tips to help athletes avoid injury. For example, they may recommend certain stretching exercises or strengthening activities that will help prevent injuries.
Three important reasons to get a physical exam include:
- Gain protection against COVID-19
As the Delta variant continues to spread throughout our community and affect younger people, it’s important for your child or teen to get vaccinated for their safety and the safety of those around them. Children 12 and up can get the FDA-approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Immunizations are very safe and one of the most effective tools we have to prevent the spread of dangerous infectious diseases.
- Build a healthy lifestyle
As your child grows, it’s important for them to understand the importance of adequate exercise, sleep, nutrition and making healthy choices like avoiding drugs and alcohol. Annual exams also keep your child on track with all immunizations and help assess their physical, mental and emotional development, which are critical for keeping them healthy.
- Participate in sports safely
Sports physicals help identify potential issues that could predispose your child to illness or injury while active in sports, like asthma or heart problems. When a doctor has a baseline of your child’s health, it is easier for them to identify new problems and make adjustments to treat them.
What to expect during a physical exam
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, approximately 30 million athletes younger than 18 years and another 3 million athletes with special needs receive medical clearance to participate in sports every year. During a physical exam, your doctor will usually:
- Record height and weight
- Take blood pressure and pulse (heart rate and rhythm)
- Test vision
- Listen to the heart, lungs, abdomen
- Look inside the nose, ears and throat
- Evaluate posture, joints, strength and flexibility
Although most of the physical exam will be the same for males and females, the doctor may ask gender-specific questions if they’ve started or already gone through puberty. They will also ask questions about the use of drugs, alcohol or dietary supplements (e.g., for performance or weight loss) as they can negatively impact their health. In most cases, your doctor will fill out a form for the school, sports organization or place of work indicating you or your child is physically fit for team sports. In some cases, however, they may recommend a follow-up exam, additional tests or specific treatment for newly diagnosed medical problems. Schedule your physical this month so you’re ready for fall. Visit the skilled specialists at Coastal Urgent Care of Bossier/Haughton Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sat-Sun, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Walk-ins welcome.