Has your child signed up to play a sport this season? Don’t skip the sports physical, which is a requirement in many schools and states. Also known as a pre-participation physical exam (PPE), a sports physical exam can help find health problems that could stop your child from competing safely.

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What is a sports physical?

A sports physical covers the basics of your child’s health. To start, the healthcare provider may ask questions about family history, previous surgeries, allergies, past injuries, complications during exercise and any medications your child takes. Then, the healthcare provider will do a physical exam to check:

  • Height and weight
  • Blood pressure and heart rate
  • Abdomen, heart, lungs, ears, nose and throat
  • Hearing and vision
  • Strength, flexibility, coordination, reflexes and posture

Girls also may be asked about their menstrual cycle, or period.

What to expect during your visit?

The healthcare provider may order tests, prescribe medicine or request another exam.

If needed, the healthcare provider can also give immunizations and discuss any health-related concerns you or your child may have. Topics of discussion may include growth, nutrition, exercise, sleep and social behavior.

If everything checks out, they will sign a sports physical form that says your child is healthy enough to play. Don’t forget to leave the appointment with a signed form. This document tells the school that your child has had a physical examination and immunizations are up-to-date.

When should you get a sports physical?

Plan on getting the sports physical at least six to eight weeks before the season starts. The physical is usually good for one year. If your child has a medical condition that interferes with playing sports or recently had an injury, you may need to schedule more frequent check-ups.

Remember, a sports physical is not a replacement for an annual well-child visit.

What do you need for a sports physical?

If your child takes medicine, it’s a good idea to bring that with you to the appointment. Also, spend some time thinking of questions and concerns you and your child can ask your healthcare provider during the sports physical. Sometimes it can be hard to remember these types of things during the visit, so writing them down beforehand can be a big help.

If your child needs a physical for sports, CareNow® urgent care can help. Locate the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic to set up a sports physical exam.

Our clinics are open seven days a week for walk-in patients. You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In®.