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The Importance of a Sports Physical for Children Playing Contact Sports

Sports physicals are medical checkups that are required by most schools and states in order for children to participate in contact sports. Schools require the exams to make sure that students are healthy enough to safely participate in sports. Unlike comprehensive physical examinations, sports physicals focus on the examination of the body systems that are most commonly stressed in athletic activity. Sports physicals can be completed by physicians or nurse practitioners, and children are normally required to have at least one physical examination per academic year. It is generally recommended that student-athletes have physicals completed at least six weeks before the start of the season for their sport. This ensures enough time for any further tests that may be needed without delaying the student’s active participation or resulting in missed practices or games.

 

What to Bring to a Sports Physical

For a sports physical Charlotte NC, patients will be given a health history and physical examination form by their school. This is an example of a commonly used form for student-athletes in North Carolina. The form includes health history information that should be completed prior to arriving at the doctor’s office for the examination. Typically, the health history form gathers information about the personal and family medical history of the patient and asks about conditions such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, allergies, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, musculoskeletal conditions, and neurological conditions. The medical staff at the clinic will review the patient’s answers on the health history form and may ask for more details during the appointment.

 

What to Expect at a Sports Physical

After checking in at the Charlotte family practice, the sports physical will begin with taking the patient’s vital signs. This is usually completed by a nurse. The patient’s height, weight, and body mass index will be recorded, and his or her temperature, pulse, and blood pressure will also be measured. Temperature and oxygen saturation readings may also be recorded. Next, patients will likely be asked to change into a gown. Undergarments can be kept on. If the child wishes, he or she can have a parent or chaperone remain in the room during the examination. The doctor will review the patient’s vital signs and ask questions about medication and supplement use. The doctor will also ask about the child’s diet and any past injuries or broken bones. Female patients will be asked about menstruation.

To start the examination, the Charlotte primary care will check the child’s eye health and visual acuity. The child’s hearing and ear health will also be examined, and the doctor will feel the patient’s sinus area for any tenderness. The child will be asked to open his or her mouth so that the doctor can inspect the teeth and throat. The doctor may also feel the lymph nodes in the child’s neck.

The next part of a sports physical usually focuses on the cardiovascular system. The doctor will listen to the child’s heartbeat, assessing its rate, rhythm, and strength. They will also listen for any extra or abnormal sounds. The child’s breathing will also be assessed, and the doctor will listen for any crackles, wheezing, coughing, or other signs of breathing difficulties. The doctor may listen to areas of the child’s chest and back while he or she is sitting up and again while he or she is lying down. In addition to listening with the stethoscope, the physician may also tap on the child’s chest as part of the exam. If more information about the child’s heart health or breathing is needed, the doctor may order an electrocardiogram or a spirometry test.

The exam continues with an abdominal assessment. For this portion of the physical, the child will need to lift up his or her gown to expose the abdomen, and a sheet will be placed over his or her pelvic area and lower body for privacy. First, the doctor will listen to the abdomen for bowel sounds, and then he or she will palpate (feel) the area for any masses or other issues. To conclude the exam, the doctor will assess the patient’s limbs. Reflexes, gait, range of motion, flexibility, and muscle and joint strength will be checked. This site provides a physical examination guide from the child’s perspective. After their exam, children can ask any questions they may have, and doctors will sign the completed form from the child’s school or recommend additional testing.

Sports physicals are vital to a child’s health as they help to assess whether a child is healthy enough to participate in the sport. Doing so will prevent injuries and catch any problems before they occur. Be sure to bring your child in for their physical in a timely manner so that they can enjoy the full season of whichever sport they choose.

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