Sports physicals, also known as preparticipation physical exams (PPEs), evaluate a young athlete’s health history, current health status, and physical readiness to confirm whether they can safely participate in a specific team sport or school-sponsored athletic activity.
The state of California requires all student athletes who are enrolling in a new sport or starting a new competitive season to undergo a sports physical first. At American River Urgent Care in Orangevale, California, we offer prompt and convenient appointments for sports physicals every day of the week.
Every sports physical has two key components: a health history review and a physical exam. Here’s how to prepare ahead of your visit to ensure the process goes smoothly.
What’s the purpose of a sports physical?
A sports physical assesses several aspects of a young athlete’s health to determine if they can safely participate in a specific sport. It can also help identify kids who have a higher risk of injury, illness, or sudden cardiac arrest when they’re on the field or in the game.
No matter what your child’s age or preferred activity, a sports physical aims to:
- Establish their current health status
- Measure their physical maturity
- Ascertain their physical fitness level
- Document any pre-existing injuries
- Discover high-risk medical conditions
A sports physical doesn’t take the place of annual wellness checkups or regular medical care.
What can I expect during a sports physical?
A sports physical begins with a comprehensive health review that goes over your child’s medical and family health histories. During this part of your appointment, you may discuss:
- Any known allergies
- Chronic health conditions
- Current medications
- Previous sprains and fractures
- Past hospitalizations
- Full cardiovascular history
The exam portion of the visit is very similar to an annual checkup, but with a few additional sports-related assessments that focus on bone, joint, lung, and heart health.
Following a standard evaluation of your child’s height, weight, heart rate, and blood pressure, Dr. Nangalama performs routine checks on their abdomen, lungs, ears, nose, and throat.
Next, he checks for signs of an irregular heartbeat, heart murmur, or other problem that can affect heart health during sustained exertion.
He also examines your young athlete’s posture, joint stability, muscle strength, and flexibility.
The vision test determines whether your child needs corrective eyewear to play sports. Our team recommends protective eyewear for all kids who play contact sports.
How should I prepare for a sports physical?
While both components of a sports physical are necessary for attaining clearance to get in the game, the health history portion is especially important, in that it provides key information which can help identify your child’s risk of experiencing medical problems during sports play.
First and foremost, if you’ve been given a medical form for your child’s sports physical, fill out the health history portion before your appointment. The questions are highly detailed and the information you provide is important, so take your time and be as accurate as possible.
Medical and health history sections include:
- Personal medical and health history
- Current chronic health conditions
- Family health history questionnaire
You should also attain the following items from your child’s pediatrician and bring them along:
- Complete medical transcript
- Updated vaccination records
- A list of current medications
- Past letters of medical clearance
If you have the above forms but not the completed health history questionnaire, bring the following information with you to the exam:
- A list of known allergies, including severity
- A list of prior bone, joint, and head injuries
- Details about prior hospitalizations or surgeries
- Past serious illnesses and current conditions
- History of notable weight gain or weight loss
- Corrective lens use (glasses or contact lenses)
- Dental appliances, orthotics, or piercings
Just as importantly, be prepared to answer a series of questions about symptoms your child may have experienced — or frequently experiences — during physical exertion, including chest pain, headaches, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
Finally, be prepared to provide details about your child’s family medical history. Specifically, our team wants to know if there’s a family history of heart problems, unexplained fainting or seizures, or sudden, premature death among close relatives younger than 50 years old.
When will my child be cleared to play sports?
In most cases, Dr. Nangalama can provide post-exam clearance for sports participation at the end of the exam itself. However, if your child has any conditions or specific risk factors that require further care or consideration, he may recommend additional tests or treatments and a follow-up exam.
Call 916-287-8569 to schedule a prompt sports physical at American River Urgent Care today, or click online to book an appointment any time.