Let’s Get Physicals!
It’s unusual for a child to avoid catching a cold or getting hurt. Maybe you haven’t made the early-morning call to the doctor to see if they can fit your son or daughter in that day. If that’s the case, it’s important to understand that your child will still benefit from annual physical examinations. Each year, a physician should track your child’s growth and development while evaluating him or her for potential issues. Plus, physical check-ups are required for school registration.
When it’s time to “play ball,” “dive in” or “cross the finish line,” then it’s time to book your child’s sports physical. The pre-participation physical examination or PPE does not evaluate your child’s ability to excel in their chosen sport, however determines if it’s safe for your child to participate. Typically, your child’s PPE should occur about six weeks prior to starting the activity in case they require further evaluation, treatment, or even rehabilitation.
Premier Urgent Care centers offer annual, back-to-school and sports physicals at convenient times, 9am to 9pm seven days a week. Certified medical examiners follow the protocol for intake and performing the exam. Plus, they have the authority to decide if your child should or should not participate in a physical activity.
The PPE is divided into two important parts: medical history and physical examination.
Getting the Facts
Your family medical history provides important information to the examiner about possible conditions your child may have or may develop. Be ready to provide responses for the following about your child:
• Previous illnesses
• Current illnesses – such as diabetes, asthma and epilepsy
• Hospitalization or surgery
• Injuries – like concussions, bone fractures and sprains
• Dizziness, fainting or chest pain
• Difficulty breathing during exercise
• Current medications – over the counter, supplements and prescription
Assessing the Patient
The second part, the physical examination, should focus on the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests that people with “heart or lung disease, bleeding disorders, musculoskeletal problems, history of concussion, or other neurologic disorders” should be evaluated further.
During the physical examination, the certified medical examiner will:
• Record height and weight
• Take blood pressure and pulse
• Test vision
• Check heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose, throat and teeth
• Evaluate posture and joints
• Examine skin
• Evaluate nutritional state
• Assess strength and flexibility
Boys will also be checked for hernias during the physical exam. If a hernia is found, a surgeon must evaluate the patient prior to participation in a sports program.
Depending on the age of the patient, the examiner may ask your child whether they smoke, use drugs, drink alcohol, or take dietary supplements, including steroids or other “performance enhancers” or weight-loss supplements. Each of these can negatively affect their overall health and physical performance.
Discussing the Results
After the exam, your child may be approved to participate in physical activities. In some cases, the examiner may recommend a follow-up exam, suggest more tests, or discuss detailed treatment for potential medical concerns. Don’t be alarmed by this referral. Your child may have exhibited a weakness or revealed slight discomfort or pain during the physical exam. Further evaluation could prevent additional damage, or result in your child adopting different exercises, changing stretching techniques, to simply selecting different footwear.
Remember, annual physicals are important for monitoring your child’s well-being and development. Sports physicals are required for some students to participate in physical education classes at school or an extracurricular sport. These exams are intended to protect your child from injury, not keep them on the sidelines.