Sports Physical

What is a sports physical?

Also called pre-participation physical examinations (PPE), sports physicals are usually a part of registering youths for participation in a sport. Organizers generally require an evaluation for children to participate. Regulations vary according to the rules of the respective state, school or a sport’s governing body.

A PPE helps to assure that the athlete is healthy and physically ready for their chosen activity such as baseball, football, martial arts, soccer or track. Before registering, check with the organizers about their eligibility requirements. The purpose of the PPE is to help minimize the risk of injury while your child plays.

Why do children need sports physicals?

Sports physicals help to ensure an athlete can safely play in their chosen sport as required by the state, school or sports organization. Even when it’s not mandatory, sports physical exams help to keep vaccinations up to date and provide a chance to discuss any concerns.

What happens during a sports physical?

Specific requirements can vary according to the particular sport’s organizers or governing body. Your child’s sports physical examination may include:

  • Check of blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate and rhythm
  • Details regarding dietary supplements, medications or prescriptions for your child
  • Evaluation of flexibility, joints, posture and strength
  • General physical exam to check the ears, nose, throat, heart, lungs and abdomen
  • Height and weight measurement
  • Review of the athlete and the family’s medical history
  • Vision check

What are the benefits of sports physicals?

Having a PPE protects your child, teammates and staff from avoidable illness, injury and even possibly life-threatening situations. As well as meeting the eligibility requirements, there are added benefits to having a sports physical before participation:

  • Evaluating general health can proactively help address potential health concerns: Reviewing a child’s medical history and immunization record and performing a routine physical exam can help avoid issues that may block participation. Any immunization gaps can be addressed.
  • Get useful training tips: If a child is to attend a sports camp, your MinuteClinic® provider may share some helpful training advice and ideas for avoiding injuries during the event.
  • The medical history review covers any medical conditions that run in the family, such as diabetes and prior illnesses such as asthma: Your MinuteClinic provider can check on the status and recommend medication or additional remedies. For example, though a child may not have had symptoms for an extended period, a history of asthma may interfere with eligibility. A solution may be for them to carry an inhaler. It helps team staff to be aware in case the player experiences a sudden episode and needs to use it.
  • Pre-existing and current conditions such as allergies and injuries must be evaluated: Injuries in youth sports can range from minor ankle sprains and repetitive motion strains to more severe conditions like concussion and heat stroke. This screening will identify those potential health issues, so they’re not exacerbated and cause undue pain, injury or re-injury.

What should I bring for a sports physical?

Parents/Guardians are reminded to fill out the parents’ sections of all the necessary forms before the visit. This expedites the sports physical exam process. Please collect the following medical information to bring to the examination:

  • For participants with a history of a heart ailment or cardiac event: The primary care provider or treating physician must provide a statement that they have evaluated the condition and that it does not prevent the athlete’s participation.
  • Primary care provider’s info: Bring their name and contact information.
  • Relevant health and medical history: This includes any allergies, current medications and existing medical conditions.

Your provider can verify vaccinations given at MinuteClinic or with proper documentation of immunizations administered by another health care provider. A sports physical exam is not intended to replace a comprehensive annual wellness exam and other screenings.

How can a MinuteClinic provider help me with a sports physical?

MinuteClinic providers are qualified to perform sports physicals for kids and teens. Our providers can review your child’s medical history, conduct an exam and recommend additional tests and diagnosis if necessary. Following the session, your MinuteClinic provider will fill in the required medical forms for the athlete.

Can a MinuteClinic provider give clearance to return to sports after a COVID-19 infection?

A MinuteClinic provider can help give clearance based on guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics. A MinuteClinic provider will review the athlete’s COVID-19 test results and ask questions about the infection. They will also conduct a physical exam.

They can provide a letter stating that the athlete can return to their activity, or they can fill out a form specific to your school or program. Please note that your school may have additional requirements for post-COVID-19 clearance. If you were not initially tested for COVID-19 at CVS or MinuteClinic, you will need to bring a copy of your test results.

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