What’s an unexpected activity that saves lives? A visit to your urgent care clinic for a sports physical. But not necessarily in the way that you may be thinking. Read on.
Meet Marcus. Marcus was a healthy, active 14-yr old who loved soccer. In order for him to play in the fall, his school required that he get a sports physical. It was during this exam that the doctor noticed a peculiar bulge behind his left knee. After a little further investigation, it was recommended to Marcus’ mother that Marcus get a CT scan of his leg to check for an aneurysm. And sure enough, one was found and quickly treated. This saved both Marcus’ life and his dreams of playing varsity soccer at his middle school.
Certainly not every sports physical leads to a life-threatening diagnosis. More common health issues detected are diabetes and myopia (nearsightedness). After all, it’s no surprise that for many middle and high school students, a sports physical may be their only contact with a doctor for the year. So, if your child needs to get a sports physical, it pays to get it done right.
What does a U.S. HealthWorks sports physical entail?
Most schools require a sports physical, or pre-participation exam (PPE), and some schools offer it to their students. But even if a PPE isn’t required, it is still highly recommended for young athletes to have one completed as a preventative measure to help identify potential problems before they become serious. Normally not something you can know just by playing a sport, a sports physical can spot high blood pressure, heart murmurs, or other issues and can sometimes even diagnose things from prior years that were ignored. And as we said earlier, U.S. HealthWorks also monitors for aneurysms and hernias.
For all of these reasons and more, we take this seriously. Our sports physicals are not just a rubber stamp; they are comprehensive and thorough. Our sports physicals have two key components: the physical exam and the medical history.
The goal of our physical exam is to evaluate whether or not the student has any existing conditions that can put him/her at risk while taking part in their sports activity. Every U.S. HealthWorks sports physical includes a:
- complete head-to-toe physical examination
- heart and lung examination
- visual acuity examination
- urine test (for diabetes)
- blood pressure test
The goal of obtaining/establishing medical history is to ensure that all school and insurance needs for the student are properly met. When applicable, our doctors will also identify risk factors that are linked to the young athlete’s’ specific sport and provide instruction on stretching and strengthening activities to prevent injury.
For parents, this is also the perfect opportunity to discuss with our doctors where your children fall on the physical and health spectrum in relation to their peers. What mother doesn’t want know if their star athlete is above or below normal?
How early should the sports physical be done?
Back to school can feel like the busiest time of year, but we recommend doing your sports physical about 6 weeks in advance of any upcoming activity. That way you have time to recover from or treat any issues that are discovered. For additional information on sports physicals, read some of our most frequently asked questions or find a U.S. Healthworks clinic near you.