Parents often ask why they need to get a physical for sports for their children. They want to know what you do at a sports physical that is different from a regular physical.

These two types of physicals may seem similar, but a regular physical cannot replace a sports   physical. A sports physical requires specialized focus on a person’s health concerning their physical fitness and their specific sports.

We have specialized pediatric sports medicine doctors at our offices, so schedule your child’s  sports physical with us today. Sports medicine doctors are trained to offer individualized information to each patient and their sport. Experience why our sports doctors for kids are a better fit than your general pediatrician. 

Let’s explore the differences between sports physicals, regular physicals, and what to expect from the different kinds of physical exams for sports and athletics wellness.

What is a Regular Physical Health Exam?

Doctor Trying to Listen to Baby Heartbeat. Regularly Scheduled Medical Check-Up

A regular physical makes sure that your child is growing normally. This exam looks at your child’s growth, motor skills, vision, and hearing. Children benefit most when they are taken to a regular physical not less than one time a year. Infants, babies, and toddlers are generally seen more than once a year. 

A regular physical is performed by a primary care physician called a PCP. A pediatric doctor is a primary care physician for children. They specialize in knowledge about how children grow and how to treat children for illnesses, diseases, and injuries.

Why Do Children Need a Regular Physical Health Exam?

Children need to get a regular physical to ensure that any problems that can be corrected are caught as early as possible. These checkups benefit your children because they are a chance for their doctor to make sure that everything is going as expected with their physical and mental health.

So why do you need a physical for sports?  What do you do at a sports physical that’s any different than what’s covered by a regular physical?

What is a Sports Physical Health Exam?

Sports physicals are similar yet distinctly different from regular physicals. They focus more on your child’s physical health as it directly relates to the types of sports and physical activities they have been participating in or plan to start.

Every appointment is going to be specific to the child and what sports they’re playing. Different sports have different kinds of impacts on different parts of the body and each sport carries its own risks to children.

Pre-Participation Exam (PPE)

The first kind of sports physical that a child receives is called a pre-participation exam or PPE. A sports physical is also any physical for sports given at any time your child is playing sports and needs an evaluation. For example, they may have fallen on a hard surface while practicing or playing in a sport or twisted their ankle in between playing sports. 

When Should You Get a Physical for Sports?

Bring your child to see our qualified sports medicine team if you have any doubts about their physical health while they are enrolled in sports. While there’s no reason to panic, sports injuries can develop more readily depending on factors such as how much athletes train. 

You should get a physical for each new sport that your children start participating in. Your sports medicine physician or pediatrician will take the time to go over each new sports activity with you and discuss the associated physical risks during the examination. They will also be able to assess your child for any possible limitations.

What Do You Do at a Sports Physical Health Exam?

During a sports physical, we focus on things like your child’s muscle, heart, and nervous systems—as separate systems as well as how the systems are working together. 

A general health history is taken much like a regular physical. Information about previous surgeries, bone fractures, allergies, sicknesses, and what medications your child is on are all considerations for playing sports. 

More things that your doctor may look at in a physical for sports include:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Vision 
  • Hearing
  • Blood Pressure

What Do You Do At a Sports Physical That Isn’t Done at a Regular Physical?

We can best answer the question of what do you do at a sports physical by giving some examples of what you won’t find in a regular physical exam: 

Sports Science

Sport Science and Information Technology Concept

Receive accurate sports performance expectations, risks, training considerations, and factors like how nutrition impacts athletic ability. 

Critical Inquiry – Education and Injury Prevention in Sports

Sports are an opportunity to provide education to a family and their athlete. A sports medicine doctor has information and knowledge on current principles of evidence-based practices in sports. 

Rehabilitation and Return to Activity

If an injury has occurred in or out of your child’s sport, a sports physical informs you about rehabilitation options, limitations of your athlete, and how to safely focus on returning them back to sports. 

Acute Injuries and Illness Management

Understand how minor injuries and illnesses impact athletic participation, and how to support a full recovery. You’ll learn how much an athlete can participate in their sport during periods of acute issues which would make a difference in the long run. Untreated problems can get worse and lead to permanent disabilities. 

Any Medical or Surgical Considerations 

Your personal sports medicine doctor is separate from your athlete’s coaches and team’s medical staff. Sports organizations may have many people managing the wellness and safety of your child’s sports team.

As your child’s sports medicine doctor, we provide important feedback and communication within their sports organization regarding your athlete.

Why Do You Need a Physical For Sports?

Most sports organizations and all schools with sports teams will require your child to get a pre-participation sports physical. 

Consider the benefits and get your athletic child a periodic sports physical

Sports and athletics can provide positive experiences for children. Participation boosts physical fitness, builds coordination, develops children’s senses of cooperation, and their understanding of healthy, fair competition. The National Institute of Health estimates that more than 7.6 million children (55%) join competitive sports by the time they’re in high school. 

According to Stanford Children’s Hospital, over 775,000 children are injured each year while participating in sports activities. One in four of those injuries is considered serious. Children’s development and maturity can have an impact on whether or not they’re at increased risk for injury, and the risk for severe sports injuries increases with age. 

The American Medical Association (AMA) states that it is a right for athletes to receive adequate health supervision. 

How Our Pediatric Sports Medicine Doctors Can Benefit Your Child and Family 

We offer continuous care for your athlete through our interdependent network of healthcare professionals. Our offices in Plantation and Doral include general pediatricians and sports medicine doctors for growing youth.

Not Sure What Sports Are Best For Your Child?

Our sports physicals will help you determine what sports your children might excel in and enjoy most based on their age, abilities, and personality. If your child wants to start sports, but you are not sure where to start—schedule a consultation with us now.