The Importance of School Sports Physical Exams
Under normal circumstances school sports offer a safe venue in which the student athlete can develop these traits. However, some children and teens may have an underlying health condition that could put them at risk if they were to participate in physical activity without it being treated or managed. To protect the health and safety of the student athlete, many schools require a sports physical exam, also know as a pre-participation physical exam (PPE), prior to starting the season. Even if your child is perfectly healthy, a PPE offers the opportunity for your child to discuss personal issues, such as sexual activity and drug use, with the physician that (s)he may not want to openly share with you.
Purposes of the pre-participation exam:
- To identify life-threatening situations.
- To assess the musculoskeletal system to rule out conditions that could cause discomfort during physical exertion (e.g., tendonitis).
Information obtained from the medical history:
- Health conditions present at birth.
- Past illnesses and injuries (e.g., bone fractures, sprains, concussions, etc.,).
- History of surgical and non-surgical procedures.
- Current health condition (e.g., allergies, asthma, etc.,) and symptoms (e.g., shortness of breath, wheezing, etc.,) experienced.
- Current lifestyle habits (e.g., diet, exercise, sexual activity, and drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, etc.,)
- Immunization records.
- Questions regarding menstrual activity for female athletes.
- Family history of congenital (at birth) health conditions and/or chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, etc.,).
- List of current medications, if any.
- Height and weight measurements.
- Assessment of heart rate and blood pressure and, in some cases, an electrocardiogram (heart rhythm).
- Evaluation of visual acuity and hearing sensitivity.
- Assessment of motor reflexes.
- Palpitation of pulse points.
- Evaluation of blood and urine samples.
- Examination of the cardiovascular system (e.g., listening to the heart and lungs via the stethoscope), eyes, ears, nose, mouth, throat, abdomen, and genitalia.