Summer vacation will be over before you know it, and the time it takes to get ready to go back to school will take over steadfast. Statistically, parents who play an active role in their children’s education make a huge difference in their success. It’s a good idea to take your child in for a sports physical and routine checkup well before school starts to ensure everything goes smoothly.
The Importance of Sports Physicals
The sports physical exam, also known as the preparticipation physical examination (PPE) is performed to:
Find out if your child is in good health
Measure the maturity of his or her body
Measure physical fitness
Learn about current injuries
Find conditions that may have been present at birth which could lead to injury
Most states require a sports physical before children and teens can play. Usually your child’s physical will take place either at school or at a doctor’s office. It involves several steps, including a thorough family medical history, blood pressure test, pulse reading, vision test, and a check of your child’s whole body. While the doctor’s examination is important, the family medical history is even more essential. Neal Spears, MD, pediatrician at St. Joseph Health Pediatrics South College Station, says, “The family medical history plays a vital role showing your doctor what issues your child might be predisposed to, including sudden cardiac death. In fact, it has been shown in good studies that family history is more important than the physical exam! Both of the child’s parents should fill out the form in as much detail as possible.”
After you’ve completed the medical history and the examination, the doctor might ask your child some questions. For girls, doctors may want to know about her period and diet. Teenaged girls who play sports sometimes develop Female Athlete Triad, an umbrella term for three conditions. Female Athlete Triad involves an irregular or absent period, disordered eating, and osteoporosis or a weakening of the bones. Dedicated female athletes may be diagnosed with Female Athlete Triad after they have altered their training and diet to be stricter or more intense. It’s important for your daughter to be open with her doctor to prevent Female Athlete Triad from becoming a problem due to the risk of developing early osteoporosis if it is not corrected.
Once a sports physical is performed, the doctor can give advice on how to protect your child from injury while playing a sport and how to safely play with a medical condition or chronic illness. For example, if your child has asthma, he or she may need a change in medicine to better control it while playing sports. Occasionally, the doctor might send your child to a specialist for a follow up appointment. A specialist can address issues discovered at the initial PPE in further detail. However, be advised that sports physicals don't take the place of medical care or routine checkups.
Why Do We Need Vaccines?
School-age children, from preschool to college students, all need vaccines. To keep children in schools healthy, most schools require up-to-date immunization records, and you may be asked to provide paperwork showing that your child has all the necessary shots and vaccines.
Making sure your children stay up to date with vaccinations is the best way to protect your communities and schools from outbreaks that can cause unnecessary illnesses and deaths. If you're unsure of your child’s school requirements, now is the time to check with your child's doctor, your child's school, or your health department.
Request an appointment with St. Joseph Health for a physical and vaccinations before the end-of-summer rush. Wellness checks, vaccines, and all preventative care are required to be covered with no copay or deductible for all insurances in the United States that do not have a specific religious exemption.