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  4. Sports Physicals

Sports Physicals

If you’re the parent who is calling the doctor’s office the day before practice starts, we have news for you: there’s a better way.

Your routine well-child visit can be used to approve your child's participation in sports. As long as your visit is scheduled within six months prior to participation, your pediatrician can sign the needed paperwork — without a second visit.

We recommend your child receive a yearly exam by your pediatrician to assess your child's needs, including: growth, development, immunizations, nutrition, substance abuse, bullying, sexual activity or thoughts of suicide.

Benefits of a Well-Child Exam Versus a Basic Sports Physical

Some schools provide a day set aside to perform sports physicals. Although this may seem like a tempting solution, one issue with with group physicals is some use a station method where one provider checks the heart, one checks the child’s back and so on. This means there is not a provider looking at the overall health of the child. Group physicals at the school do not give a full picture of the health of the patient.

Benefits of well-child exams include:

  • One appointment for all health needs
  • Time with your primary provider who knows you and your family
  • A chance to catch up on important immunizations
  • Ability to discuss options of what sport would fit your child’s growth, interest and prevent risks
  • Instead of excluding from activities, find a fit that the child would enjoy
  • For those with chronic conditions or medication needs, all refills and renewals can be discussed
  • An overall look at your child and opportunity to discuss behavior, nutrition and personal issues
  • Discussion of potential risks involved with a particular sport

When to Schedule Your Exam

Many of you have been there—we need a doctor’s signature as soon as possible so our child can go to practice. We make phone calls, desperate to get our child seen by someone.

Your well-child check up can replace a sports physical as long as completed within the six months prior to sports participation. Beat the rush and schedule your exam early!

A few problems if you procrastinate your doctor visit:

  • You risk not being able to be seen in time
  • If you do get in, you may not get to see your regular doctor
  • You may have to make another appointment to update immunizations
  • You put unnecessary stress on yourself or your child
  • You may fail to get complete care, by opting for a quick sports physical somewhere else
  • Most well child exams are covered by insurance but if you procrastinate, you may pay a fee somewhere else for care

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule your well-child visit, find a pediatric clinic closest to you.

Be sure to bring required sports participation paperwork for your pediatrician to sign during your visit.