Signing your child up to play sports is an incredible opportunity for them. No matter which sport they plan, they learn the importance of teamwork, diligence and confidence. Physical activity is the perfect balance to a day spent learning in the classroom. However, there are some risks involved with organized sports. With a rise in injuries, especially during practice, it’s important to understand your child’s physical health.
Without regular sports physical exams, small injuries can turn into much bigger problems. Everything from a concussion to a small stress fracture can be compounded if you aren’t aware of your child’s baseline health. Before next season begins, be sure to bring your child in for a complete sports physical exam.
What is a Sports Physical Exam?
A sports physical exam consists of a series of tests performed by a doctor to determine your child’s level of fitness. While the doctor is not looking to decide whether your child is in ideal shape or not, they are looking for any reason why playing sports would be dangerous for your child. Sports physical exams have been mandatory for more than 40 years as a way for schools to keep children safe during their practices and regular season games.
A typical sports physical exam will give the doctor, and your child’s school, enough information to determine whether they are safe to play most sports. For some sports, especially those that are particularly physical, it’s important to ask for additional tests, like a brain physical. We’ll talk more about that later, but it’s important to know that you can ask for more than the standard sports physical exam tests during a doctor’s appointment if you’re worried about your child’s specific health conditions.
Why Does Your Child Need a Sports Physical Exam?
The main reason your child needs a sports physical exam is to set them up for success during their season. The doctor is not looking for ways to disqualify your child, but rather, they want to know what steps to take to get your child ready to play at their full potential.
For example, if your child has a history of a broken ankle, a doctor might show you some specific stretches to do before and after practice to lower the risk of reinjuring the area again. A routine sports physical exam also helps you understand what your child’s natural physical state is. By looking at the same physical exams year after year, you can start to identify any possible long-term effects your child might have as a result of playing sports. Sometimes there are no effects at all. But it’s always worth the time it takes to do the exam when you catch something potentially dangerous. For example, deteriorating muscle mass in a certain part of the body or other concerns.
Is a Sports Physical Exam Covered by Insurance?
A sports physical exam is not covered by insurance companies. Statcare understands the positive impact sports can have on a child’s life, especially for those who are looking for scholarships in the future. Year after year, we do everything we can to maintain an affordable $60 rate for our sports physical exam. Not only do we make sure our physicals are cost effective, but we also provide additional tests when necessary, all at one location. The ease, convenience and accuracy of our sports physical exam makes us a favorite for many families when the school year starts.
Are Brain Physicals Part of a Standard Sports Physical Exam?
As we mentioned earlier, brain physicals do not yet come standard in a sports physical exam. Despite the importance of brain health, some doctors don’t even have the equipment in their office to do a proper brain physical. All Statcare locations have both the staff and the equipment to do a full brain physical for your child during their sports physical exam. Just ask us to perform one during their appointment and we’d be happy to help!
Even if your child doesn’t have a history of brain injury, it’s still a good idea to ask for a brain physical. Testing your child while they’re healthy gives you a good idea of their base level. You can check against these results year after year to make sure that no injury goes undetected and no permanent brain damage is being done. As we learn more about the horrific side effects that come from chronic brain injury, asking for brain physicals during every sports physical exam will become a no-brainer.
What to Expect at Your Child’s Sports Physical Exam
The sports physical exam will start with questions about your child’s medical history. As always, be as honest as possible when answering these questions because it will help your doctor make the best recommendations for your child. Be prepared to tell the doctor about any illnesses in the family, any previous hospital stays your child had, any past injuries or current pain, and any medication they take. If your child is old enough, they can answer these questions for themselves. Just make sure they’re prepared with the answers when they arrive.
From there, the doctor will start the physical exam. They’ll check the regular stats, like your child’s height and weight. They will evaluate your child’s lungs, heart and blood pressure. They will also check your child’s vision and hearing. At Statcare, we check near vision, far vision, and color vision.
Finally, the doctor will check your child’s skeletal system and the brain, if you request it. Once they’ve recorded all the results, they will offer any medical advice your child might need to successfully compete in their sport of choice. The entire process of a sports physical exam should be quick, painless, and full of information for you and your child.
Where to Get a Sports Physical Exam
When your choosing a location to take your child for their sports physical exam, you’ll want to pick a facility that is capable of performing the standard test, but also any additional tests you want to consider. For swimmers and soccer players, kids who are performing high intensity cardio for extended periods of time, it’s smart to consider a sickle cell screening. Although it’s not required, it is helpful to know in order to keep your child healthy. Trusting that you’re with a doctor who can make those kinds of recommendations, while also keeping the whole exam cost-effective, is a very important factor in deciding where to go.
Statcare offers all those tests, plus a friendly staff who is ready to answer all your questions. Find us at one of our 5 locations every day of the year, including holidays. We are conveniently located by the train, so you don’t have to worry about a long commute. Come in whenever you’re ready to complete your child’s sports physical exam.