Every year, we receive frantic calls from parents saying, “I need my child to have a sports physical today, or they can’t join practice or games!” Unfortunately, we often have to explain that our schedule is full, as many other parents are in the same boat. In the state of Washington, a sports physical is mandatory every 2 years for kids in 6th grade and beyond who want to participate in sports.
Sports physicals serve as a crucial tool to spot and deal with potential health issues that student athletes might have. This ensures they can engage in sports safely. The process involves two key parts:
- Review of Medical History: The sports physical form, available at school, contains questions about a child’s medical and family history. It’s best to complete this form before the visit. If you can, arrive 20 minutes early if you need to fill it out at the clinic. By preparing these forms in advance, you and your provider can go over any concerns together. Also, note that depression screening is now routine for all teenagers.
- Physical Examination: During the appointment, the provider will check the patient’s vital signs and perform a physical examination to spot any potential problems or risk factors. If there’s a family history of heart disease or heart concerns, an EKG might be conducted. No urine or blood tests are necessary.
You can easily combine a sports physical with a well-child exam. This is a chance to update immunizations, discuss safety matters regarding smoking, vaping, substance use, driving, cellphone usage, and firearm safety. Additionally, any issues like acne or birth control can be addressed. When booking the appointment, let the receptionist know you want the sports physical to be part of a well child examination.
Remember, sports physicals can be done at any time of the year, not just before a sports season. Plan ahead and schedule the appointment early to prevent your child from missing out on their sports activities. Your child’s health and sports season are equally important!