Keeping Young Athletes Healthy with Sports Physicals

pediatrics-sports-physicalsAccording to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), nearly eight million students currently participate in high school athletics in the United States. Millions more children regularly participate in other organized sports, including soccer, baseball, softball, team swimming, cheerleading, dance and gymnastics, among others.

Parents can give their young athletes a leading edge by scheduling a sports physical with one of our pediatric specialists at Skagit Regional Health. We believe that young athletes need a one-on-one physical examination with their own pediatrician or family doctor before any athletic season begins. Our doctors have the expertise and knowledge to diagnose and treat medical problems early on so your athlete does not miss a game.

What Is a Sports Physical?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, key features of a sports physical exam should include: 

Taking the Medical History

This part of the sports physical examination reviews your child’s medical history and any past issues, including:

  • A complete medical history 
  • Allergies
  • Any current medications
  • Current or prior history of illnesses such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy 
  • Past injuries such as concussions, sprains or bone fractures  
  • Past incidences of fatigue, fainting, dizziness, chest pain or trouble breathing during exercise
  • Previous hospitalizations or surgeries
  • Serious illnesses among other family members

Performing the Physical Examination

During the physical part of the sports physical exam, the doctor will:

  • Check heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat
  • Evaluate posture, joints, strength and flexibility
  • Record height and weight
  • Take blood pressure and pulse
  • Test vision

Preventing Injuries with Further Evaluation

Sudden cardiac death is the leading cause of death in young athletes. That’s why it is necessary to get a qualified pediatrician or family doctor to check out your child before the season begins. Young athletes may need further evaluation and tests if any of the following are found:

  • A family member with a history of premature death – sudden or otherwise
  • A history of abnormal heartbeat, heart murmur or high blood pressure
  • A history of chest pain, dizziness or fainting
  • A significant disability from cardiovascular disease in close relatives younger than 50 years old
  • Abnormal shortness of breath or fatigue during exercise
  • Heart and/or eye problems experienced by a student-athlete who is unusually tall, especially if being tall is not common in other family members. 

For More Information About Sports Physicals

If you have questions about sports physicals for your family, please contact one of our team members at Skagit Regional Health’s pediatric services.