Here’s What Your Child Can Expect During Their School Sports Physical

Feb 03, 2023
Here’s What Your Child Can Expect During Their School Sports Physical
If your middle or high school student needs a sports physical, you might be curious about what happens at this appointment and how it’s different from their well-child exam. Keep reading to get your questions answered.

If your middle or high school student needs a school sports physical to play on their school’s sports team, you might wonder why and what happens at this appointment that’s different from their regular well-child exam

Many organizations, including schools and competitive leagues, require each player to undergo this simple medical evaluation because it helps ensure they’re safely able to play the sport. A sports physical can also help coaches understand how to support any special health issues, like asthma.   

At our 12 locations in Monroe Township, Nuremberg, Laporte, Falls, Edwardsville, Freeland, Shickshinny, Wilkes-Barre, Sullivan Trail Fall, and Hazelton, Pennsylvania, our skilled team of expert providers at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, make it easy for you to get your child’s school sports physical. 

If this is the first time your child has needed this type of physical exam, keep reading to learn what’s involved and what your child can expect. 

What do I need to know about school sports physicals?

Sports physicals, also sometimes called pre-participation physical evaluations (PPEs), are physical exams required by schools, the state, leagues, and team organizations before your child is allowed to take part in practice or team games. 

It’s important to note that a sports physical doesn’t replace your child’s annual well-child visit. This is a separate exam. However, at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, you can talk to the scheduler about combining both types of exams into one appointment. 

School sports physicals involve two parts: a review of your child’s medical history and a brief physical exam. This allows your child’s provider to review or uncover any health conditions or medical issues that might affect your child’s ability to participate in their sport. 

Keep in mind that if your child has a condition, it doesn’t mean they won’t be cleared to participate in sports. Depending on your child’s condition, your child’s provider may adjust or prescribe medication, recommend the use of safety equipment, or provide recommendations for how a coach can best work with your child’s condition. 

It’s best to schedule your child’s school sports physical six to eight weeks before the season or sporting activity begins. This leaves plenty of time for your child to get evaluated and for our team to treat or address anything the exam may uncover.

What can my child expect during their sports physical?

Chances are good you’re already very familiar with what happens during your child’s annual wellness visit at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania. School sports physicals differ in that we evaluate your child’s fitness and health with their specific sport or physical activity in mind. 

The exam has two parts: a medical history review and a physical exam. Here’s a closer look at each section:

Medical history review

While specific details may vary based on your child’s age and personal history, generally, you and your child complete a series of questions on the provided form. These questions go over important aspects of your child’s medical history, including:

  • Immunizations record 
  • History of medical issues or problems
  • Any allergies and/or past injuries
  • Any previous surgeries or hospitalization
  • Family history of medical conditions and serious illnesses
  • Specific history of chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness, or passing out
  • Medications and supplements your child takes

Girls are asked about their menstrual cycle and boys are asked if they’ve experienced any testicle pain. Their provider also asks them specific lifestyle questions, including inquiring about any alcohol and drug use. 

Physical exam

During the physical portion of the sports exam, we record their vital signs, measure their height and weight, and evaluate their vision and hearing. We also examine your child’s:

  • Abdomen, heart, and lungs
  • Ears, nose, and throat
  • Muscles and bones, looking for scoliosis
  • Range of motion, balance, and alignment

At the end of your child’s sports physical, we complete the required forms, which may include a copy of their immunization record. We note any special requirements or health concerns on the form. 

How do I get started with a sports physical?

In some cases, you can schedule a sports physical at an urgent care or walk-in pharmacy. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you take your child to their primary care provider for this important exam.

The providers at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania have specific training related to diagnosing and managing conditions in children and adolescents, whose health needs differ from adults. Our team can also make sure your child is up-to-date with any immunizations or other health requirements needed by their school.

Getting started with a school sports physical is as easy as booking an appointment online or over the phone at one of Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s 12 centers nearest you. We accept all insurances and offer a sliding fee schedule; we also offer free transportation services with rides to and from your visit if you need help getting to our center.