Beginning in the middle of the summer — or about 4-6 weeks before the start of a new school year and fall sports season — our expert providers are busy conducting comprehensive sports physicals for active kids of all ages in Claremore, Oklahoma.
Summer may be our main “sports physical season” here at Pediatric Practitioners of Oklahoma, but just as young athletes may decide to join a new team at any time of the year, we offer these important exams all year long, including in the lead-up to the winter sports season.
If your young athlete has decided to try out for the school basketball or wrestling team, start gymnastics, or join a local indoor soccer team this winter, a thorough sports physical exam can help ensure their safe participation. Here’s what to expect.
What’s the objective of a sports physical?
Sports physicals — also known as preparticipation physical exams (PPEs) — have one central goal: To determine whether a young athlete can safely participate in a specific team sport or a school-sponsored athletic activity.
No matter what your child’s age or preferred activity happens to be, a sports physical:
- Reviews their full medical history
- Evaluates their current health status
- Assesses their physical maturity
- Gauges their overall physical readiness
- Takes note of pre-existing injuries
Part of ensuring safe sports participation includes determining whether your young athlete has a higher risk for injury, illness, or sudden cardiac arrest when they’re in the game. Knowing about these increased risks can help us take preemptive action to minimize them — or switch sports as recommended.
Who needs a sports physical?
A sports physical is an important prerequisite for every young athlete who’s planning to try out for a new sport or start a new competitive season. This includes middle school and high school students who are gearing up to play a new sport or head into a fresh season, as well as older grade-schoolers who’d like to take part in school-sponsored athletics.
If your student athlete has never had a sports physical, or if they haven’t had one within the last year, it’s important to schedule one with our team at least one week — but ideally, a few weeks — in advance of their first scheduled practice for their chosen winter activity.
What are the components of a sports physical?
A sports physical is a lot like a standard well-child exam. However, it focuses more closely on a young athlete’s musculoskeletal health (bones, muscles, joints) cardiovascular health (heart) and respiratory health (airways and lungs).
We achieve these assessments with a complete medical history review and comprehensive physical exam. Let’s take a closer look at each component of a sports physical appointment:
Medical history review
A sports physical begins with an in-depth health review that considers your student-athlete’s personal medical history and family health history. As we perform the review, we write the information on your child’s sports physical form, which you should be able to obtain from their school or recreational sports team.
You can expect to discuss everything related to their health, such as diagnosed health conditions (asthma), medications they use, and previous hospitalizations. This information can help us perform two important risk evaluations:
Injury risk assessment
Asking about past injuries — such as sprains, fractures, and concussions — can help us better evaluate your young athlete’s risk for future injury. We may also ask about training habits and offer strategies to help prevent an overuse injury.
Cardiac risk assessment
We also conduct a cardiovascular risk evaluation by going over your child’s family history and personal history. This includes asking about chest pain, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, and other concerning symptoms your child may have experienced during physical exertion.
Complete physical exam
The exam portion of a sports physical begins with a standard evaluation of your child’s height, weight, heart rate, and blood pressure, followed by routine checks of their ears, nose, throat, and abdomen. Then, we shift to the central component of the exam:
Heart and lung check
First, we conduct a basic cardiovascular evaluation, listening to your child’s heart to check for signs of a problem — such as an irregular heartbeat or heart murmur — which could compromise heart function during physical exertion. Then, we perform a respiratory assessment, listening to your child’s lungs as they breathe.
Next, we evaluate your young athlete’s posture, joint stability, muscle strength, and flexibility with a few simple musculoskeletal tests.
Vision and hearing tests
Lastly, we perform simple vision and hearing tests to ensure your child can safely play sports without the aid of corrective lenses or hearing devices. We recommend protective eyewear for all young people who play contact sports.
When is a child cleared to participate in sports?
Most of the time, our team can provide post-exam clearance for activity participation at the end of the sports physical.
However, if we determine that your young athlete has a medical condition or risk factor that calls for extra care or consideration — such as uncontrolled asthma or chronic joint instability from a previous ankle sprain — we may not be able to clear them to play without additional testing or a period of treatment.
Is your young athlete gearing up for winter activities? Pediatric Practitioners of Oklahoma can help. To schedule a sports physical for your child, call 918-283-4660 or book an appointment online with Pediatric Practitioners of Oklahoma today.