Back to school check-ups & sports physicals
Being a parent of school-age children, you are no doubt familiar with all the requirements for school admission from year to year. One requirement by many middle and high schools is that of a sports physical before teens are allowed to participate in school sports.
Do I have to get a regular physical too?
Since a sports physical is different than a standard physical, you do need to get both. But, nothing says you can’t get them at the same time. You may have heard of a “wellness visit” or “comprehensive physical exam”, which refers to getting both a check-up and sports physical at the same appointment. It’s best to check in with your health insurance to determine what is covered, so you can best plan and possibly save yourself time as well.
What is Involved?
Some of the things that your doctor will check as part of the comprehensive physical exam:
- Height and weight
- Blood pressure and heart rate
- Assessment of heart, lungs, abdomen
- Eye exam
- Musculoskeletal exam including assessment of posture, flexibility and strength
Your doctor will also take a health history and then assess how their past and current health status will affect future participation in sports. Concussion injuries are often in the news, so this gives the parent an opportunity to address these concerns and be advised on what steps to take to ensure your child is participating in a safe way, whether in school sports or in their free time.
How Early Can it Be Done?
Most schools will allow for exams that have been completed as early as May or June. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association that governs athletic programs in Wisconsin schools allows for sports physicals to be completed as early as April. It is certainly a good idea not to put off school and sports physicals as it may be difficult to get an appointment closer to the start of the school year. It would be very disappointing for a child to be unable to participate in school sports because of the inability to secure a physical in time.
Another reason not to put off a comprehensive physical exam is in case there is a health concern that needs to be addressed. For example, just because your child has a health condition such as asthma, epilepsy or diabetes, this does not automatically disqualify them from participating in school sports. There may though be adjustments that need to be made to their medications or specific instructions to keep them playing safely.
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It’s best to check in with your health insurance to determine what is covered prior to scheduling.
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