Sport physicals measure a child’s ability to play sports for their school. They consist of a review of medical history and a physical examination to ensure your child is healthy enough to play sports. The examination includes measuring height and weight; taking blood pressure and pulse; vision tests; checking your child’s heart, lung, abdomen, ears, nose, and throat; and testing your posture, joints, strength, and flexibility.

“Sports physicals are needed to make sure athletes compete safely—for their own health—and for the health of others,” said Dr. Shomo.

Heart murmurs or hidden heart disorders are sometimes found during physicals. A few more-common conditions physicians see that might limit a student’s physical activities include asthma, allergies and high blood pressure.

What to expect

For anyone who hasn’t been through a sports physical before, here’s what you can expect:

The most important part for the parent is filling out the form. The first page of the national standardized form covers the young person’s health history and the second page is for recording the student’s vitals and exam results. “We can’t legally do the exam without a form signed by the child’s parent or guardian,” said Dr. Shomo.

Sports physicals typically take 15 minutes. Students getting their physicals at the school gym or venues outside of a clinic can expect to spend about 30 minutes total with about 10 minutes spent with a doctor for the actual exam. The rest of the time is spent getting blood pressure, height, weight and vision checked.

The physical exam covers essentials such as general appearance, eyes/ears/nose/throat, lungs and heart, abdomen, and the musculoskeletal system (joints, bones, muscles, etc.). Dr. Shomo will examine the athlete’s neck, back and various joint systems for range of motion and strength.

Depending on the sport your child intends to play, the doctor might pay closer attention to certain areas. “I’ll focus on the feet or ankles of a runner,” explained Dr. Shomo. For kids in baseball and other throwing sports, the focus might be on arms or shoulders.

Though most sports physicals are usually good for two years, some programs could require a physical be done annually.

Bottom line, these check-ups are an essential part of helping kids stay healthy—both in the game and out.

For additional questions about you or your child’s Physical, contact Dr. Shomo at (540) 515- HEAL (4325)

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