Sports are a great way for kids to stay Physically Fit, make new friends, and have fun! But did you know that the State of Florida School Board requires Children and Teens have Physical Examinations completed before participating in School Sports?
The Goal and What to Expect
The goal of the Sports Physical is to ensure that all young Athletes can compete safely for both their own Health as well as the Health of others. Regardless of whether or not a Sports Physical is required, most Doctors will recommend that your Child get one before beginning a new competitive Season or Sport. An Athletic Physical will help determine if it’s safe for the Student to participate in the Sports Activities based on the outcome of the Exam.
In most cases, your Child will be cleared to play with no concerns. Occasionally, however, the Sports Physical Exam will turn up a problem, such as a Heart Murmur or a hidden disorder that might be potentially Life-threatening. Other common conditions that might limit a young Athlete’s activities include Allergies, Asthma, and High Blood Pressure.
There are two basic components to the Sports Physical. The first is a thorough Medical History, and the second is the actual Physical Exam.
Please note that Brevard County Schools now requires EKG Testing (Cardiac Screening) for most School Sports. However, the Parent can Sign a Waiver with the School if they do not wish to have this Test Performed.
The Medical History: This part of the Physical cover’s questions about the overall Health of the Student. Most often a form is brought home to be filled in by the Parents. The questions on this form cover the Student’s Past and Present Medical History.
- Any known Allergies
- Any Medications currently taken (such as Over-the-Counter Medications, Herbal Supplements, and/or Prescription Medications)
- Episodes of Dizziness, Fainting, Chest Pain, or trouble Breathing during Exercise
- Illnesses experienced previously or currently (such as Asthma, Epilepsy, or Diabetes)
- Serious Illnesses among Family Members
- Past Hospitalizations or Surgeries
- Previous Injuries, including Concussions, Sprains, and/or Bone Fractures
It’s important to answer these questions fully and truthfully. You should not try to guess the answers or provide answers you think will satisfy the Doctor. The information provided will help determine certain patterns of Illness and possible Conditions that could impact your Child’s ability to play Safely. In most cases, however, the answers are unlikely to prevent participation in a Sport.
The Physical Exam: During this part of the Exam, which usually lasts about 15 minutes, Blood Pressure, Weight, and Height will be checked. Your Child’s general appearance will be Examined, as well as the Eyes, Ears, Nose, Throat, Lungs, Heart, Abdomen, and Musculoskeletal System (Joints, Bones, and Muscles). The Provider may Examine the Musculoskeletal Systems to check strength and range of motion related to a particular Sport Activities—such as the Feet and Ankles for Sports involving running, or Arms and Shoulders for those that involve throwing.
The Provider may also ask questions based on your Child’s age and gender. For example, a Female who has gone through puberty might be asked about her Menstrual Cycle in order to rule out certain commonly known associated Female Athlete Conditions. Both Males and Females may be asked about their use of Drugs, Alcohol, Dietary Intake Habits or Weight Loss Supplements, and Steroids or other Performance-Enhancing Substances, as these could impact their overall health.
Understanding the Results
After the Exam is complete, the Doctor will fill out and sign the form provided and make a recommendation. The recommendation is typically good for a Period of One-Year.
If everything checks out, your Child will be cleared for activity.
In some cases, additional recommendations will include a Follow-up Exam, further Medical Testing, or Specific Treatment for a Medical problem.
In general, your doctor will recommend one of the following:
- Cleared for All Sports without Restriction
- Cleared for All Sports, but with Further Evaluation and Treatment Recommendations
- Not Cleared pending further Evaluation by a Sub-Specialist, or restrictions for certain Sports/Activities, or Restricted from all Sports although this is extremely rare
The more intense the Sports Activity, the greater the importance of getting a Full Clearance.
If for some reason your child is Not Cleared to play a Particular Sport, the Doctor may Recommend a Less Intense Sport/Activity. Keep in mind, however, there can be Health Risks Associated with any Sport.
The provider may also provide Warm-up and Stretching Tips related to Specific Sport/Activity or recommend Stretching and Strengthening Exercises to help your child prevent Injuries.
Before your child receives the required Sports Physical, you will need to fill out the Forms provided by the School or Athletic Association. These Forms must be Signed by the Parent or Legal Guardian.
If your child typically wears Glasses or Contacts, you should also bring these so that your Child can complete the Vision portion of the Exam successfully.
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