No matter which sport your teen plays; soccer, football, baseball, track, ect., the need for sports physicals is right around the corner and is an important part of returning to school. Anyone participating in school activities usually needs a pre-participation clearance from a licensed medical professional.
During the sports physical, also known as a pre-participation physical, the provider completes a medical history including immunizations and allergies, and performs a thorough physical exam checking for any issues with the heart, lungs and musculoskeletal system. It is important that your child receives a sports physical each year before they join an athletic sport to ensure they are game day ready and help reduce the risk of an injury. The most common identifiable cause of sudden death on the playing field is called cardiomyopathy. While it’s not diagnosed by physical exam, the history of the athlete can identify those who are most at risk. If the athlete has a history of fainting, chest pain, dizziness or chest pain with activity; or if they have a family history of sudden, unexplained death in anyone under 50 then they are at risk of having an underlying, potentially life-threatening medical condition. These are the athletes that providers are seeking to identify during the sports physicals.
A sports physical can help identify concerns that may restrict the athlete from participating in sports or, more commonly, offer recommended modifications such as using special protective equipment, carrying medicine for severe insect allergies, or using an inhaler for asthma. You can help keep your children healthy throughout the year by helping them eat healthy, stay moving while at home and limiting screen time, keeping them up-to-date on immunizations and vaccinations, and much more. This will help your child as an athlete perform to their fullest potential.
If necessary, immunizations can also be administered during a sports physical exam. Immunizations help protect children from potentially fatal diseases such as pertussis (whooping cough), flu, and measles. All school children must be up to date on their immunizations by October 1 to start in public school. Immunizations, such as a yearly flu shot,
Influenza season generally starts in the fall of the year, commonly increasing in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. This too can many times be prevented by vaccination. Influenza is responsible for billions of dollars in lost productivity each year in the United States.
(Beth Perius, PhD, ENP, FNP-BC, is a family nurse practitioner at CHI St. Alexius Health Human Performance Center. She received her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Houston, TX.)