Learning About Sports Physicals for Children

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Why does your child need a sports physical?

Before your child starts to play a sport, it's a good idea for the child to get a sports physical exam. Some sports programs may require a sports physical before your child can play. Many school sports programs offer a screening right at the school. The best way is to have your child's doctor do a sports physical exam during a regularly scheduled well-visit.

A sports physical can screen for some health problems that could be a problem for your child in some sports. It's not done to keep your child from playing sports. It will give you, the doctor, and your child's coaches facts to help protect your child.

How is the sports physical done?

During a sports physical, your child's height and weight will be measured. Your child's blood pressure will be checked. He or she may also get a vision screening.

The doctor will listen to your child's heart and lungs. He or she will look at and feel certain parts of your child's body. Boys may be checked for a hernia or a problem with their testicles. Your child's joints and muscles will be tested to see how strong and flexible they are. The doctor will also ask about your child's past health.

The doctor will review your child's vaccine record. Your child may get any needed vaccines to bring the record up to date.

The doctor and your child may talk about any gear your child will need to protect from injuries while playing a sport. They may also talk about diet, exercise, and other lifestyle issues.

How do you prepare for the sports physical?

Before your child's sports physical, gather any records that your doctor might need. This includes details about:

  • Any injuries and health problems.
  • Other exams by a doctor or dentist.
  • Any serious illness in your family.
  • Vaccines to protect your child from things such as measles or mumps.

You may be asked to complete a questionnaire before you come to the sports physical. This can help the doctor evaluate your child's health.

Be sure to tell the doctor about things that may seem minor, like a slight cough or backache. And let the doctor know what sport your child will play. Each sport calls for its own level of fitness.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.