Playing on a school or community sports team is a great way for kids to stay in shape and learn teamwork. No matter which sport your son or daughter plays — whether it’s football, cross country, golf or cheerleading, there’s always a risk of getting hurt.
The casualties of youth sports can range from minor sprained ankles and repetitive strains, to more serious conditions like concussions or exercise-induced asthma. Some kids may even have serious allergic reactions to bees and other insects found in playing fields.”
To avoid getting hurt or sick on the field, court, and track, kids need to be prepared. That preparation starts with seeing a health care provider for a sport’s physical or pre-participation physical examination (PPE) to make sure their bodies are ready for the season ahead.
Ideally athletes should have the exam done about six to eight weeks before sports season starts. That way, if your physician wants to treat a condition, refer you to a specialist, or do a follow-up exam, there will be enough time before the sport begins to be cleared to play.
What to Expect During a Sports Physical
The sports physical starts with a thorough medical history. The physicians will ask about any history of illness, hospitalizations, or injuries that might prevent your teen from playing, or that might limit the amount of activity the child or teen can handle. The medical history will be followed by a physical exam, in which the physicians will:
- record your height and weight
- take a blood pressure and pulse (heart rate and rhythm) reading
- test vision
- check the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose, and throat
- evaluate posture, joints, strength, and flexibility
Additional testing such as blood tests, X-rays, or electrocardiogram may be ordered during the sports physical. Although most aspects of the exam will be the same for males and females, if a person has started or already gone through puberty, the physicians may ask girls and guys different questions. For example, if a girl is heavily involved in a lot of active sports, they may ask her about her period and diet to make sure she doesn’t have something like female athlete triad, which is disordered eating, amenorrhea and osteoporosis. They may also ask questions about use of drugs, alcohol, or dietary supplements, including steroids or other “performance enhancers” and weight-loss supplements, because these can affect a person’s health.
If everything checks out during the physical, the physicians will approve the athlete to play without any restrictions or he might recommend certain modifications, like using special protective equipment, carrying an epinephrine auto injector for severe insect allergies, or using an inhaler for asthma. It’s unusual for kids to be banned from playing altogether. Most health conditions won’t prevent kids from participating in sports, but sometimes they’ll need treatment such as therapy and a follow-up exam in order to play.
To make it easy on parents, Dr. Shastri is offering discounted sports physicals for students age 6 years and older through Sept. 30, 2014. Call (815) 300-1450 for more imformation.